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

Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE fought the release of former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyTrump decries lack of 'fairness' in Stone trial ahead of sentencing Blagojevich heaps praise on Trump after release from prison Free Roger Stone MORE's memos out of fear President TrumpDonald John TrumpChasten Buttigieg: 'I've been dealing with the likes of Rush Limbaugh my entire life' Lawmakers paint different pictures of Trump's 'opportunity zone' program We must not turn our heads from the effects of traumatic brain injuries 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.


"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 PriebusMick Mulvaney's job security looks strong following impeachment CNN's Harwood on Trump acquittal speech: 'This is somebody in deep psychological distress' Reince Priebus joins CBS News as political analyst MORE, then-acting Attorney General Sally YatesSally Caroline YatesGraham requests interviews with DOJ, FBI officials as part of probe into Russia investigation Sally Yates blasts Trump for using DOJ as 'personal grudge squad' Biden: 'I sure would like Michelle to be the vice president' MORE, adviser Stephen MillerStephen MillerTrump looms as flashpoint in Alabama Senate battle Stephen Miller's uncle says he donated to pro-refugee group as a wedding gift Trump attends Stephen Miller's wedding at Trump International Hotel 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.