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other campaign-related matters. The inquiry would not turn on what Attorney General Sessions
would actually do if unrecused, but on whether the efforts to reverse his recusal would naturally
have had the effect of impeding the Russia investigation.

On multiple occasions in 2017, the President spoke with Sessions about reversing his
recusal so that he could take over the Russia investigation and begin an investigation and
prosecution of Hillary Clinton. For example, in early summer 2017, Sessions recalled the
President asking him to unrecuse, but Sessions did not take it as a directive. When the President
raised the issue again in December 2017, the President said, as recorded by Porter, “Not telling
you to do anything. . . . I’m not going to get involved. I’m not going to do anything or direct you
to do anything. ljust want to be treated fairly.” The duration of the President’s effortsgwhich
spanned from March 2017 to August 2018—and the fact that the President repeatedly criticized
Sessions in public and in private for failing to tell the President that he would have to recuse is
relevant to assessing whether the President’s efforts to have Sessions unrecuse could qualify as
obstructive acts.

b. Nexus to an official proceeding. As described above, by mid-June 2017, the existence
of a grandjury investigation supervised by the Special Counsel was public knowledge. In addition,
in July 2017, a different grand jury supervised by the Special Counsel was empaneled in the
District of Columbia, and the press reported on the existence of this grand jury in early August
2017.776 Whether the conduct towards the Attorney General would have a foreseeable impact on
those proceedings turns on much of the same evidence discussed above with respect to the
obstructive-act element.

0. lntent. There is evidence that at least one purpose of the President’s conduct toward
Sessions was to have Sessions assume control over the Russia investigation and supervise it in a
way that would restrict its scope. By the summer of 20 1 7, the President was aware that the Special
Counsel was investigating him personally for obstruction of justice. And in the wake of the
disclosures of emails about the June 9 meeting between Russians and senior members of the
campaign, see Volume ll, Section ll.G, supra, it was evident that the investigation into the
campaign now included the President’s son, son-in-law, and former campaign manager. The
President had previously and unsuccessfully sought to have Sessions publicly announce that the
Special Counsel investigation would be confined to future election interference. Yet Sessions
remained recused. In December 2017, shortly after Flynn pleaded guilty, the President spoke to
Sessions in the Oval Office with only Porter present and told Sessions that he would be a hero if
he unrecused. Porter linked that request to the President’s desire that Sessions take back
supervision of the Russia investigation and direct an investigation of Hillary Clinton. The
President said in that meeting that he “just want[ed] to be treated fairly,” which could reflect his
perception that it was unfair that he was being investigated while Hillary Clinton was not. But a
principal effect of that act would be to restore supervision of the Russia investigation to the
Attorney General—a position that the President frequently suggested should be occupied by
someone like Eric Holder and Bobby Kennedy, who the President described as protecting their

776 E. g., Del Quentin Wilbur & Byron Tau, Special Counsel Robert Mueller Impanels Washington
Grand Jury in Russia Probe, Wall Street Journal (Aug. 3, 2017); Carol D. Leonnig et al., Special Counsel
Mueller using grand jury in federal court in Washington as part of Russia investigation, Washington Post
(Aug. 3, 2017).

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presidents. A reasonable inference from those statements and the President’s actions is that the
President believed that an unrecused Attorney General would play a protective role and could
shield the President from the ongoing Russia investigation.

I. The President Orders McGahn to Deny that the President Tried to Fire the
Special Counsel

Overview

In late January 2018, the media reported that in June 2017 the President had ordered
McGahn to have the Special Counsel fired based on purported conflicts of interest but McGahn
had refused, saying he would quit instead. After the story broke, the President, through his
personal counsel and two aides, sought to have McGahn deny that he had been directed to remove
the Special Counsel. Each time he was approached, McGahn responded that he would not refute
the press accounts because they were accurate in reporting on the President’s effort to have the
Special Counsel removed. The President later personally met with McGahn in the Oval Office
with only the Chief of Staff present and tried to get McGahn to say that the President never ordered
him to fire the Special Counsel. McGahn refused and insisted his memory of the President’s
direction to remove the Special Counsel was accurate. In that same meeting, the President
challenged McGahn for taking notes of his discussions with the President and asked why he had
told Special Counsel investigators that he had been directed to have the Special Counsel removed.

Evidence
1. The Press Reports that the President Tried to Fire the Special Counsel

On January 25, 2018, the New York Times reported that in June 2017, the President had
ordered McGahn to have the Department of Justice fire the Special Counsel.777 According to the
article, “[a]mid the first wave of news media reports that Mr. Mueller was examining a possible
obstruction case, the president began to argue that Mr. Mueller had three conflicts of interest that
disqualified him from overseeing the investigation.”778 The article further reported that “[a]fier
receiving the president’s order to fire Mr. Mueller, the White House counsel . . . refused to ask the
Justice Department to dismiss the special counsel, saying he would quit instead.”779 The article
stated that the president “ultimately backed down after the White House counsel threatened to
resign rather than carry out the directive.”780 After the article was published, the President

777 Michael S. Schmidt & Maggie Haberman, Trump Ordered Mueller F ired, but Backed Ojj’ When
White House Counsel Threatened to Quit, New York Times (Jan. 25. 2018).

773 Michael S. Schmidt & Maggie Haberman, Trump Ordered Mueller Fired, but Backed Ofl When
White House Counsel Threatened to Quit, New York Times (Jan. 25. 2018).

779 Michael S. Schmidt & Maggie Haberman, Trump Ordered Mueller Fired, but Backed Off When
White House Counsel Threatened to Quit, New York Times (Jan. 25. 2018).

730 Michael S. Schmidt & Maggie Haberman, Trump Ordered Mueller Fired, but Backed Ofl When
White House Counsel Threatened to Quit, New York Times (Jan. 25. 2018).

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dismissed the story when asked about it by reporters, saying, “Fake news, folks. Fake news. A
typical New York Times fake story.”781

The next day, the Washington Post reported on the same event but added that McGahn had
not told the President directly that he intended to resign rather than carry out the directive to have
the Special Counsel terminated.782 In that respect, the Post story clarified the Times story, which
could be read to suggest that McGahn had told the President of his intention to quit, causing the
President to back down from the order to have the Special Counsel fired.783

2. The President Seeks to Have McGahn Dispute the Press Reports

On January 26, 2018, the President’s personal counsel called McGahn’s attorney and said
that the President wanted McGahn to put out a statement denying that he had been asked to fire
the Special Counsel and that he had threatened to quit in protest.784 McGahn’s attorney spoke with
McGahn about that request and then called the President’s personal counsel to relay that McGahn
would not make a statement.785 McGahn’s attorney informed the President’s personal counsel that
the Times story was accurate in reporting that the President wanted the Special Counsel
removed.7E6 Accordingly, McGahn’s attorney said, although the article was inaccurate in some
other respects, McGahn could not comply with the President’s request to dispute the story.787
Hicks recalled relaying to the President that one ofhis attorneys had spoken to McGahn’s attorney
about the issue.738

7“ Sophie Tatum & Kara Scannell, Trump denies he calledfor Mueller 's firing, CNN (Jan. 26,
2018); Michael S. Schmidt & Maggie Haberman, Trump Ordered Mueller Fired, but Backed Ofl When
White House Counsel Threatened to Quit, New York Times (Jan. 25, 2018).

732 The Post article stated, “Despite internal objections, Trump decided to assert that Mueller had
unacceptable conflicts of interest and moved to remove him from his position. . . . In response, McGahn
said he would not remain at the White House if Trump went through with the move. . . . McGahn did not
deliver his resignation threat directly to Trump but was serious about his threat to leave.” Rosalind S.
Helderman & Josh Dawsey, Trump moved to fire Mueller in June, bringing White House counsel to the
brink ofleaving, Washington Post (Jan. 26, 2018).

733 Rosalind S. Helderman & Josh Dawsey, Trump moved toflre Mueller in June, bringing White
House counsel to the brink ofleaving, Washington Post (Jan. 26, 2018); see McGahn 3/8/17 302, at 3-4.

7“ McGahn 3/8/18 302, at 3 (agent note).
785 McGahn 3/8/18 302, at 3 (agent note).
7“ McGahn 3/8/18 302, at 3-4 (agent note).
787 McGahn 3/8/18 302, at 4 (agent note).

7“ Hicks 3/13/18 302, at 11. Hicks also recalled that the President spoke on the phone that day
with Chief of Staff John Kelly and that the President said Kelly told him that McGahn had totally refuted
the story and was going to put out a statement. Hicks 3/13/18 302, at 11. But Kelly said that he did not
speak to McGahn when the article came out and did not tell anyone he had done so. Kelly 8/2/18 302, at
1-2.

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