President TrumpDonald TrumpUkraine's president compares UN to 'a retired superhero' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Heller won't say if Biden won election MORE was fearful of Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE’s appointment as special counsel in 2017, saying it would be the end of his presidency, according to Mueller's report released by the Justice Department.
“Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m f---ed,” Trump said when he was informed by then-Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability Stanford professors ask DOJ to stop looking for Chinese spies at universities in US Overnight Energy & Environment — Democrats detail clean electricity program MORE of Mueller’s appointment, according to the special counsel’s final report released Thursday.
“Everyone tells me if you get one of these independent counsels it ruins your presidency. It takes years and years and I won’t be able to do anything. This is the worst thing that ever happened to me,” he added, according to notes from Jody Hunt, Sessions's chief of staff at the time.
Trump then reportedly became livid with Sessions, excoriating him for recusing himself from overseeing the probe and saying he should resign.
“How could you let this happen, Jeff?” Trump asked Sessions, adding that he had “let [him] down.”
Sessions recalled that Trump said to him, “you were supposed to protect me,” or “words to that effect,” according to the Mueller report.
Hope HicksHope HicksThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - US prepares vaccine booster plan House panel probing Jan. 6 attack seeks Trump records UPDATED: McEnany, Fox News talks on pause MORE, a former top staffer in the White House who was known to be close to Trump, told the Mueller team she had only ever seen the president that angry once before when an "Access Hollywood" tape was released during the campaign in which Trump could be heard bragging about grabbing women by the genitals.
The president and attorney general then agreed that Sessions would submit his resignation to the White House, according to Mueller's report. The next day, Sessions handed in a resignation letter to Trump, but the president said he wanted him to stay at the Department of Justice.
Trump did not return the resignation letter, leading then-White House chief of staff Reince PriebusReinhold (Reince) Richard PriebusWisconsin GOP quietly prepares Ron Johnson backup plans Ex-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm Democrats claim vindication, GOP cries witch hunt as McGahn finally testifies MORE and former White House chief strategist Steven Bannon to worry that the president could use the letter to sway the attorney general, Mueller wrote.
The president returned the letter over a week later with a notation saying, “Not accepted.”
Trump and Sessions were known to have an acrimonious relationship during Sessions’s tenure atop the Justice Department. The president frequently berated his attorney general over his decision to recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller probe due to prior meetings with Russia's former ambassador. Trump continued his criticism long after Sessions left his post in November.
“Jeff Sessions should be ashamed of himself for allowing this total HOAX to get started in the first place!” Trump tweeted in December.
Trump also repeatedly derided the Mueller investigation as a "witch hunt" throughout the nearly two year probe. Following the redacted report's release Thursday, the president said: "I'm having a good day."