- One day after the special counsel Robert Mueller gave a news conference reiterating his main findings in the Russia investigation, President Donald Trump repeated a frequent claim that Mueller had asked to serve as his 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 refutes this claim.
- The document says Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, 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 while the White House considered “beseeching” Mueller to be the FBI director again, “he did not come in looking for the job.”
- Reached for comment, Mueller’s former representative also referred INSIDER to pages 80 to 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 special counsel Robert Mueller’s news conference on Wednesday 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 whether he could be his 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 Steve Bannon, his chief strategist, that Mueller had conflicts of interest that precluded him from being an objective investigator.
Trump cited his belief that Mueller “had interviewed for the FBI Director position shortly before being appointed” special counsel, the report says.
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 while the White House considered “beseeching” Mueller to be the FBI director again, “he did not come in looking for the job.”
Fun Fact: Bob Mueller is barred by law from serving again as the FBI Director. At the meeting POTUS mentions, White House officials told him, per sources, they were willing to push Congress to pass a new law to make Mueller's re-appointment possible. https://t.co/cvW1ihuVlJ
— Devlin Barrett (@DevlinBarrett) May 30, 2019
Trump also said that Mueller’s work for a law firm that represented some people associated with the president, as well as Mueller’s disputing certain fees for a membership at a Trump golf course in Virginia, meant he could not serve as the special counsel.
Bannon told the president that Mueller’s work for the law firm “did not amount to a conflict in the legal community” and that the golf-course dispute “did not rise to the level of a conflict and claiming one was ‘ridiculous and petty,'” the report says.
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 representative for Mueller’s office also referred INSIDER to pages 80 to 84 of Volume II of the report, which he said “address this issue.”
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