- A new book by the author Michael Wolff claims the special counsel Robert Mueller drew up a three-count indictment of President Donald Trump but ultimately shelved it.
- According to The Guardian, which obtained an early copy of the book, Mueller considered charging Trump with obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and retaliation against a witness.
- Wolff cited “internal documents given to me by sources close to the Office of the Special Counsel.” The Guardian also said it “viewed the documents concerned” but did not say what those documents are or whether they’re authentic.
- Peter Carr, a spokesperson for Mueller’s office flatly denied Wolff’s claim, saying, “The documents that you’ve described do not exist.”
- Wolff has come under fire before for failing to fact-check his claims, and his previous book about Trump was criticised for what some viewed as shoddy journalism and exaggerated claims.
- Read more stories like this on Business Insider’s homepage.
A new book by author Michael Wolff claims the special counsel Robert Mueller considered charging President Donald Trump with obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and retaliation against a witness.
The book, “Siege: Trump Under Fire,” is set to be released June 4, but The Guardian first reported Wolff’s claim after obtaining an advance copy.
According to the report, Wolff claims Mueller drew up a three-count indictment against the president but ultimately shelved it. Wolff cited “internal documents given to me by sources close to the Office of the Special Counsel.”
The Guardian noted that it had “viewed the documents concerned” but did not elaborate on what those documents were or whether they were authentic.
Moreover, Peter Carr, a spokesperson for Mueller’s office flatly denied Wolff’s claim. “The documents that you’ve described do not exist,” Carr told The Guardian.
The statement is a rare move from Carr, who typically responds to reporters’ questions about the Mueller probe with, “We’ll decline to comment.”
There were only two times Carr broke that protocol during the course of the investigation: to respond to reports of a right-wing effort to smear Mueller with false allegations of sexual misconduct, and to deny a BuzzFeed News report that claimed Trump “instructed” his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, to lie to Congress.
In his final report, Mueller laid out an extensive roadmap of evidence against Trump in the obstruction case, but his team declined to make a “traditional prosecutorial judgment” on whether the president obstructed justice.
Prosecutors listed three reasons why they didn’t come to a conclusion on the matter:
- A 1973 memo by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel says a sitting president cannot be indicted.
- Suggesting Trump should be charged without actually charging him deprives the president of an opportunity to defend himself as he would in a court of law.
- Filing a sealed indictment against Trump would be too risky because it may have been leaked to the public.
Attorney General William Barr ultimately concluded there was not enough evidence to charge Trump with an obstruction offence. He has since come under fire for misrepresenting Mueller’s claims and appearing to shield the president rather than the presidency.
Wolff, meanwhile, catapulted into the spotlight last year, when he released his first book on the Trump administration titled “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.” The book painted a damaging portrait of a chaotic and dysfunctional White House led by an erratic president.
The broad themes of Wolff’s book – that Trump is unfit to be president, that his aides treat him like a child, and that the administration is consumed by infighting – were generally accepted because they lined up with accounts reported by the media.
But Wolff has been accused of failing to fact-check his claims in the past, and “Fire and Fury” drew sharp scrutiny for what many reporters described as shoddy journalism and exaggerated or misleading claims that were not backed up by any underlying evidence.
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