Politics

Trump barely disrupted Russia investigation because officials rejected his orders, Mueller report says

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump's attempts to influence the Russia investigation mostly failed because those around him did not carry out his orders, according to special counsel Robert Mueller's report. 
  • Mueller declined to say whether the president committed obstruction of justice by trying to influence the probe. 
President Donald Trump
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

President Donald Trump barely influenced the Russia investigation, according to special counsel Robert Mueller's team.

But it's largely because the people he ordered to disrupt the probe into Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election did not carry out his orders, according to a redacted report released Thursday.

Mueller's team outlined several key events it investigated relating to questions of whether Trump obstructed justice. Those include him asking former FBI Director James Comey to stop investigating former national security advisor Michael Flynn and ordering former White House counsel Don McGahn to remove Mueller, among other instances.

"The President's efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests," the report reads.

Comey and McGahn did not carry out the president's requests – which McGahn referred to as "crazy s---," according to Mueller's report. The former White House counsel prepared to resign instead of following through on what the president wanted.

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and former White House aide Rick Dearborn also did not carry out the president's requests. Trump asked them to deliver a message to former Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying he should try to limit the Mueller probe to only future election meddling. Lewandowski was not a member of the administration.

Ultimately, Mueller's team did not conclude whether the president obstructed justice by trying to influence the probe. It in part cited difficulties in determining the president's intent behind his actions.

Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein declined to charge Trump with obstruction, a move met with skepticism from congressional Democrats.

Trump responded to the release of the report by saying "No collusion, no obstruction," at a White House event Thursday.

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