Special counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted 448-page report on the Russia investigation revealed colorful behind-the-scenes reactions and even almost-indictments.
Here are some of the biggest bombshells we now know so far:
Trump was extremely upset when he learned of Mueller’s appointment
According to notes taken by then-Attorney General Jeff Session’s chief of staff, Trump “slumped back in his chair,” exclaiming: “Oh my God. This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked.”
He upbraided Sessions for recusing himself, telling him that he was derelict in his duty to protect the President and compared him unfavorably to previous attorneys general Eric Holder and Robert Kennedy.
“Everyone tells me if you get one of those independent counsels it ruins your presidency,” he said. “It takes years and years and I won’t be able to do anything. This is the worst thing that ever happened to me.”
Trump asked former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to find Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails
Per the report, Trump “made this request repeatedly, and Flynn subsequently contacted multiple people in an effort to obtain the emails.”
One of the people Flynn contacted, Senate staffer Barbara Leeden, who was then working for Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), reportedly said that “even if a single email was recovered and the providence [sic] of that email was a foreign service, it would be catastrophic to the Clinton campaign.”
Leeden claimed to have found a “trove” of Clinton’s emails from the “dark web,” but they proved inauthentic.
Mueller considered charging Donald Trump Jr. for his participation in the Trump Tower meeting
“Taking into account the high burden to establish a culpable mental state in a campaign-finance prosecution and the difficulty in establishing the required valuation, the Office decided not to pursue criminal campaign-finance charges against Trump Jr. or other campaign officials for the events culminating in the June 9 meeting,” the report reads.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders admitted that she misled the press after Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey
At a press conference immediately following Comey’s firing, Sanders told a reporter that “countless members of the FBI” had expressed a loss of faith in the FBI director prior to his termination. When questioned by Mueller’s team, she reportedly said that it was a “slip of the tongue” comment she made in the “heat of the moment” and was factually baseless.
Attorney General Bill Barr significantly mischaracterized Mueller’s thought process on the obstruction question
In the hours before the report was released, Barr told reporters that Mueller was “not saying that but for the OLC opinion, he would have found a crime,” referring to the Office of Legal Council’s opinion that a sitting President cannot be indicted. “He made it clear that he had not made the determination that there was a crime.”
In reality, the redacted report shows that the OLC policy shaped Mueller’s complete approach to the obstruction question, leading him to determine that charging Trump while he was in office was not even an option.
The parameters Mueller was working within shed light on his decision not to charge Trump with any obstruction-related crimes, while still maintaining that the evidence did not exonerate him.
Russia hacked and extracted voter data from the Illinois State Board of Elections, may have broken into a Florida county government and targeted private companies that help run elections
In an alarming detail, the redacted report confirms that Russian hackers successfully broke into the Illinois State Board of Elections’ network and “extracted” the information of thousands of voters before the hack was detected.
The FBI believes — though the special counsel did not independently verify— that the hackers also got into a Florida county government’s database.
Outside the governments themselves, hackers targeted private companies involved in administering elections and providing voting technology.
Trump Jr. gave a heads up about the Trump Tower meeting before it took place to a group of senior staffers and Trump family members
Former Trump campaign deputy chairman Rick Gates said that Trump Jr. announced the upcoming Trump Tower meeting during a meeting of senior campaign staff in 2016.
The group included former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former communications director Hope Hicks and Trump family members Eric, Ivanka and Jared Kushner.
Hicks reportedly denied knowing about the meeting before 2017.
Trump started putting out feelers to dump Comey at the first sign of trouble when the FBI interviewed Flynn
In January 2017, then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates talked to White House Counsel Don McGahn about Flynn’s interview with the FBI, leaving him with the impression that the FBI did not yet have enough evidence to nab Flynn but that he was getting into hot water.
After McGahn conveyed the conversation to the President and explained the situation, Trump immediately started softening the ground to fire Comey. That night, at dinner with senior advisers, he started asking around for impressions of Comey, a classic Trump tick when he’s going cold on someone.
Senate Intel Committee Chairman Richard Burr gave the White House information about the FBI’s Russia probe
Burr confirmed to the White House Counsel’s Office that the FBI was investigating “4-5 targets” as part of the investigation into Russia’s election interference, and gave the lawyers status updates.
This is significant because McGahn’s chief of staff wrote in her notes that the President was “in panic/chaos” after Comey briefed the Gang of Eight on the investigation and was desperate for more information.
Even after his lifetime of various legal troubles, Trump thinks “great lawyers” don’t take notes
In a more lighthearted aside, a conversation between Trump and McGahn suggests Trump has gotten some shoddy legal representation over the years.
Trump to McGahn: “Why do you take notes? Lawyers don’t take notes. I never had a lawyer who took notes.”
McGahn said he did so because he is a “real lawyer”
“I’ve had a lot of great lawyers, like Roy Cohn,” Trump replied. “He did not take notes.”
Trump dictated a statement to former Campaign Manager Cory Lewandowski for Sessions to deliver publicly that said Trump was being treated “very unfairly” by the special counsel’s investigation, and that would limit Mueller’s scope to future election interference only
“But our POTUS…is being treated very unfairly,” the dictated statement reads. “He didn’t do anything wrong except he ran the greatest campaign in American history.”
“I am going to meet with the Special Prosector to explain this is very unfair and let the Special Prosector move forward with investigation election meddling for future elections so that nothing can happen in future elections,” it concludes.
By this juncture, Trump was already hopping mad with Sessions for recusing himself and saw his attorney general as “weak.”
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