Mueller didn't want Comey memos released out of fear Trump, others would change stories

Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerFox News legal analyst says Trump call with Ukraine leader could be 'more serious' than what Mueller 'dragged up' Lewandowski says Mueller report was 'very clear' in proving 'there was no obstruction,' despite having 'never' read it Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network MORE fought the release of former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyComey says he has a 'fantasy' about deleting his Twitter account after end of Trump term We need answers to questions mainstream media won't ask about Democrats Trump 'constantly' discusses using polygraphs to stem leaks: report MORE's memos out of fear President TrumpDonald John TrumpWHCA calls on Trump to denounce video depicting him shooting media outlets Video of fake Trump shooting members of media shown at his Miami resort: report Trump hits Fox News's Chris Wallace over Ukraine coverage MORE and other witnesses in the Russia investigation would use them to alter their stories, according to a court transcript obtained by CNN.

Mueller's prosecutors argued in January 2018 that the memos, which were eventually made public in April of that year, could present a conflict for their investigation if released. At the time, Mueller's team was negotiating with Trump's legal team over a potential interview.

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"Special Counsel is attempting to determine the facts that transpired in and surrounding those meetings," one of Mueller's prosecutors, Michael Dreeben, said at the time, according to CNN.

"In any investigation of this kind, the recollections of one witness, if disclosed to another potential witness, have the potential to influencing, advertently or inadvertently, the recollections of that witness," he added.

Dreeben told the court that Comey’s memos of his interactions with Trump were crucial in the special counsel’s probe and included much more detail than Comey’s public statements. He added that Mueller’s office was concerned that Trump had acted to obstruct the probe.

"In this instance, a person whose conduct is within the scope of the investigation is the President of the United States," Dreeben said in court.

Mueller ultimately interviewed several Trump associates, including then-chief of staff Reince PriebusReinhold (Reince) Richard PriebusPoliticon announces lineup including Comey, Hannity, Priebus Sunday shows - White House stresses Trump's determination in China trade fight as GOP challenger emerges Priebus: Left's 'wacko ideas' are opportunity for Republicans in 2020 MORE, then-acting Attorney General Sally YatesSally Caroline YatesMerriam-Webster: A 200-year-old dictionary offers hot political takes on Twitter Sally Yates: Moral fiber of US being 'shredded by unapologetic racism' Trump: 'Impossible for me to know' extent of Flynn investigation MORE, adviser Stephen MillerStephen MillerThe Memo: Drip, drip of revelations damages Trump Trump says acting Homeland Security chief McAleenan will step down Overnight Health Care — Presented by Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing — Judge blocks Trump 'public charge' rule | Appeals court skeptical of Trump arguments for Medicaid work requirements | CDC offers guidance for treating vaping-related cases MORE and others in the administration. However, the president never agreed to meet with Mueller for a sit-down interview and declined to submit written answers to questions about potentially obstructive acts.

CNN and other media outlets last year fought for access to Comey’s memos under a Freedom of Information Act request. A federal judge ordered the Justice Department on Tuesday to provide a transcript of the court hearing with Mueller’s prosecutors to CNN as part of the suit.

Congress received redacted versions of Comey’s memos in April that were later made public. Mueller wrote in his report that he accumulated “substantial evidence” to support Comey’s notes, though he declined to make a prosecutorial judgement regarding obstruction of justice.