- One day after the former special counsel Robert Mueller gave a news conference reiterating his main findings in the Russia probe, President Donald Trump repeated a frequent claim that Mueller asked him to serve as FBI director.
- "Robert Mueller came to the Oval Office (along with other potential candidates) seeking to be named the Director of the FBI," Trump tweeted. "He had already been in that position for 12 years, I told him NO. The next day he was named Special Counsel – A total Conflict of Interest. NICE!"
- One paragraph in Mueller’s report debunks this claim.
- According to the document, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon told prosecutors that "the White House had invited Mueller to speak to the President to offer a perspective on the institution of the FBI."
- Bannon recalled that the White House considered "beseeching" Mueller to become FBI director again, but "he did not come in looking for the job."
- Reached for comment, Mueller’s former spokesperson also referred INSIDER to pages 80-84 of Volume II of the report, which he said "address this issue."
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President Donald Trump was unequivocal when he told reporters Thursday morning that the former special counsel Robert Mueller’s news conference this week proved that there was "no collusion" with Russia and "no obstruction."
But the president took on a different tone on Twitter, where he spent most of Thursday morning railing against Mueller and his purported conflicts of interest before he was appointed special counsel in 2017.
Among Trump’s complaints is his claim that Mueller asked him whether he could be FBI director but was rejected.
"Robert Mueller came to the Oval Office (along with other potential candidates) seeking to be named the Director of the FBI," Trump tweeted on Thursday. "He had already been in that position for 12 years, I told him NO. The next day he was named Special Counsel – A total Conflict of Interest. NICE!"
There is no evidence that Trump’s claim is true. Moreover, one paragraph in Mueller’s final report demonstrates how Trump’s tweet distorted his interactions with Mueller.
Volume II of the report, which addresses the obstruction-of-justice investigation, says that in the days following Mueller’s appointment as special counsel, Trump told advisers, including former chief strategist Steve Bannon, that Mueller had conflicts of interest that precluded him from being an objective investigator.
Among those conflicts, Trump cited his belief that Mueller "had interviewed for the FBI Director position shortly before being appointed" special counsel.
Bannon "recalled telling the President that the purported conflicts were ‘ridiculous’ and that none of them was real or could come close to justifying precluding Mueller from serving as Special Counsel," the report said. "As for Mueller’s interview for FBI Director, Bannon recalled that the White House had invited Mueller to speak to the President to offer a perspective on the institution of the FBI."
Bannon also told prosecutors that the White House considered "beseeching" Mueller to become FBI director again, but "he did not come in looking for the job."
Trump also said that Mueller’s work for a law firm that represented some individuals associated with the president, as well as the fact that Mueller disputed certain fees for a membership at a Trump golf course in Virginia, meant he could not serve as special counsel.
Bannon told the president Mueller’s work for the law firm "did not amount to a conflict in the legal community." And the golf course dispute "did not rise to the level of a conflict and claiming one was ‘ridiculous and petty,’" Bannon told Trump, according to the report.
The president "did not respond" when Bannon raised those points with him, the report added.
Reached for comment on Trump’s claim that Mueller sought to resume the role of FBI director under him, the former spokesperson for Mueller’s office also referred INSIDER to pages 80 to 84 of Volume II of the report, which he said "address this issue."
- Mueller and Barr released a bizarre statement claiming ‘there is no conflict’ between their views on obstruction, despite loads of evidence to the contrary
- Read Mueller’s first public statement on the results of the Trump-Russia investigation
- Mueller says he’s resigning from the Justice Department and officially closing the Russia investigation