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Mueller report says Trump tried to get special counsel fired, but his own lawyer refused to comply


He had also asked other people to instruct the DOJ to remove Mueller

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

This story has been updated to include more details from the Mueller report

Special Counsel Robert Mueller said in his report that President Donald Trump once tried to have him fired, but White House Counsel Don McGahn refused to go through with the order.

Here's what we know

According to the report, when Mueller was first appointed in May 2017, Trump told his advisers that it would be "the end of his presidency" and tried to get Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign but later recanted and refused to accept his resignation. Trump also suggested that Mueller had conflicts of interest.

Mueller wrote that exactly a month later, on June 17, 2017, "the President called McGahn at home and directed him to call the Acting Attorney General [Rod Rosenstein]" — Sessions was still attorney general but had recused himself from the investigation — "and say that the Special Counsel had conflicts of interest and must be removed. McGahn did not carry out the direction, however, deciding that he would resign rather than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre."

The Saturday Night Massacre happened when former-President Richard Nixon's attorney general and deputy attorney general both resigned rather than comply with an order from the president to fire Watergate investigator Archibald Cox.

The report says that when the media reported that Trump was trying to end the investigation, Trump "denied that he ever ordered McGahn to have the Special Counsel terminated and made repeated efforts to have McGahn deny the story"

McGahn left the Trump administration in late 2018.

Mueller said that Trump had also asked Corey Lewandowski, his former campaign manager, to pass on a message to Sessions telling him to limit the investigation. These messages also went undelivered, according to the report: "Lewandowski did not want to deliver the President's message personally, so he asked senior White House official Rick Dearborn to deliver it to Sessions. Dearborn was uncomfortable with the task and did not follow through."

The report also details multiple occasions where Trump tried to get Sessions to "reverse his recusal from the Russia investigation." Sessions had recused himself from all matters related to the Trump campaign, since he had been a Trump campaign surrogate.

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