President Trump on Thursday insisted he “never” told former White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, saying he could have done it himself, and had the “legal right to do so,” despite the special counsel’s report saying he instructed McGahn to have Mueller removed.
“As has been incorrectly reported by the Fake News Media, I never told then White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Robert Mueller, even though I had the legal right to do so. If I wanted to fire Mueller, I didn’t need McGahn to do it, I could have done it myself,” Trump tweeted early Thursday.
“Nevertheless, Mueller was NOT fired and was respectfully allowed to finish his work on what I, and many others, say was an illegal investigation (there was no crime), headed by a Trump hater who was highly conflicted, and a group of 18 VERY ANGRY Democrats. DRAIN THE SWAMP!” he continued.
The president’s tweets come following a battle between Capitol Hill and the White House related to McGahn’s testimony. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., subpoenaed McGahn to appear before his panel after he was featured prominently in Mueller’s report. The president has vowed to block that subpoena, and any others for current and former officials coming from Congress.
Mueller’s nearly 500-page report revealed that the special counsel did not find evidence of collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia—a conclusion Trump has touted and repeated for days.
“No collusion, no obstruction,” Trump said on Wednesday.
But despite his comments, Mueller did not come to a conclusion on the matter of whether the president obstructed justice—rather, the report revealed an array of controversial actions and requests made by the president that were examined as part of Mueller’s obstruction inquiry.
McGahn’s interview with investigators factored prominently into this section, including a claim that McGahn disobeyed Trump’s call to have him seek Mueller’s removal.
“On June 17, 2017, the president called [White House Counsel Don] McGahn at home and directed him to call the Acting Attorney General 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 report stated, referencing the Watergate scandal.
The report also revealed that when the media reported of the president’s request for McGahn to have Mueller removed, the president directed White House officials “to tell McGahn to dispute the story and create a record stating he had not been ordered to have the special counsel removed.”
“McGahn refused to back away from what he remembered happening,” the report said.
The report went on to explain that two days after the initial request to McGahn, the president made another attempt to “affect the course of the Russia investigation.”
Nadler subpoenaed McGahn this week, but the White House has vowed to fight back against congressional Democrats issuing subpoenas for administration officials.
“The subpoena is ridiculous. ... I have been the most transparent president and administration in the history of our country by far,” Trump told reporters Wednesday. “We’re fighting all of the subpoenas…Look, these aren’t like, impartial people. They are Democrats trying to win in 2020.…They’re not going to win against me.”
He once again declared the probe found “no collusion and they also came up with no obstruction,” adding: “I thought after two years we’d be finished with it, no—now the House goes subpoenaing. They want to know every deal I’ve ever done.”
Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein determined that the evidence found in the investigation was “not sufficient” to establish an obstruction-of-justice charge. But Mueller’s report seemingly left the decision on obstruction up to Congress—intensifying their already existing investigations into the president.
Nadler slammed the administration in response to reports that they'd fight the McGahn subpoena.
"The Committee has served a valid subpoena to Mr. McGahn. We have asked him to supply documents to the Committee by May 7 and to testify here on May 21. Our request covers the subjects described by Mr. McGahn to the Special Counsel, and described by Special Counsel Mueller to the American public in his report. As such, the moment for the White House to assert some privilege to prevent this testimony from being heard has long since passed," he said in a statement.
Nadler added: "I suspect that President Trump and his attorneys know this to be true as a matter of law—and that this evening’s reports, if accurate, represent one more act of obstruction by an Administration desperate to prevent the public from talking about the President’s behavior. The Committee’s subpoena stands."