Mueller: Trump pressured McGahn to deny reports he was asked to fire Mueller

Mueller: Trump pressured McGahn to deny reports he was asked to fire Mueller
© Greg Nash

Former White House counsel Don McGahn refused repeated requests from the White House to deny that President TrumpDonald John TrumpButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California Kavanaugh hailed by conservative gathering in first public speech since confirmation MORE asked him to fire special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSpeier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' Comey: Mueller 'didn't succeed in his mission because there was inadequate transparency' MORE, according to Mueller's investigation.

In January 2018, reports surfaced in the media that Trump had ordered McGahn to have Mueller fired, citing alleged conflicts of interests. Those reports said McGahn threatened to quit rather than comply with the order.

Trump called such reports "fake news" at the time. Then Trump’s personal counsel and two aides told McGahn to deny the accounts, according to Mueller.

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“Each time he was approached, McGahn responded that he would not refute the press accounts because they were accurate in reporting on the President’s efforts to have the Special Counsel removed,” Mueller’s report states.

Trump later personally met with McGahn in the Oval Office with only then-chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE present to try to get him to deny the accounts, according to Mueller.

“McGahn refused and insisted his memory of the President’s direction to remove the Special Counsel was accurate,” according to Mueller’s report.

In the meeting, Trump denied to McGahn that he had used the word “fire” in reference to Mueller, the report says.

Trump in the same meeting reportedly asked McGahn why he had told Mueller’s office that he had been asked to have Mueller removed, according to the report.

McGahn said that he had no choice and that their conversations were not protected by attorney-client privilege. Trump went on to confront McGahn on his practice of taking notes during their discussions, saying, “What about these notes? Why do you take notes? Lawyers don’t take notes. I never had a lawyer who took notes,” according to Mueller’s office.

“I’ve had a lot of great lawyers, like Roy Cohn. He did not take notes,” Trump reportedly added, in reference to his mentor and onetime personal lawyer, who also served as chief counsel during Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s (R-Wis.) hearings in the 1950s, according to the report. 

"The President's statements reflect his understanding—and his displeasure—that those events would be part of an obstruction-of-justice inquiry," Mueller noted.