Mueller Report Vol. II

Pages 44 – 48

Analysis

The obstruction occurred when Trump told Comey in a meeting: “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go…I hope you can let this go.” Trump denied telling Comey to “let Flynn go” and also denied other aspects of what Comey said, even though evidence supports Comey’s version.

The investigation had to first ensure that Comey’s account of the event was accurate, and secondly, if these statements could stop justice by stopping an investigation of criminality.

Evidence:

  1. Comey had written a detailed journal of what happened that day
  2. Comey provided testimony, whose information was consistent over time
  3. Other Administration officials present that day confirmed Comey’s account
  4. Trump cleared the room of everybody, including the Attorney General, before talking to President. This means that he wanted to talk alone with Comey about something potentially harmful
  5. Comey’s reaction to being told “let Flynn go” by the president is consistent: He told his team not to tell those working on the Flynn investigation about this, (to prevent negative influence on the investigation), and he told the Attorney General that he should not be left alone with the President again.

Trump telling Comey to “let Flynn go” could very easily interfere with the investigation of Flynn. “First, the President arranged the meeting with Comey so that they would be alone and purposely excluded the Attorney General, which suggests that the President meant to make a request to Comey that he did not want anyone else to hear. Second, because the President is the head of the Executive Branch, when he says that he ‘hopes’ a
subordinate will do something, it is reasonable to expect that the subordinate will do what the President wants. Indeed, the President repeated a version of ‘let this go’ three times, and Comey testified that he understood the President’s statements as a directive, which is corroborated by the way Comey reacted at the time.”

“Nexus to Proceeding”

The use of this phrase in the Mueller Report refers to the investigation trying to establish that Trump thought that the Flynn investigation would lead to a grand jury investigation or prosecution. This was established: Trump already knew by the time he had talked to Comey that Flynn lied to the FBI, and that his actions would violate US law.

Intent

Did Trump care about the outcomes of a Flynn investigation?

There is not evidence to prove that he knew about Flynn’s conversation with Kislyak when it occurred. However, “Evidence does establish that the President connected the Flynn investigation to the FBI’s broader Russia investigation and that he believed, as he told Christie, that terminating Flynn would end ‘the whole Russia thing.’ Flynn’s firing occurred at a time when the media and Congress were raising questions about Russia’s interference in the election and whether members of the President’s campaign had colluded with Russia. Multiple witnesses recalled that the President viewed the Russia investigations as a challenge to the legitimacy of his election. The President paid careful attention to negative coverage of Flynn and reacted with annoyance and anger when the story broke disclosing that Flynn had discussed sanctions with Kislyak. Just hours before meeting one-on-one with Comey, the President told Christie that firing Flynn would put an end to the Russia inquiries. And after Christie pushed back, telling the President that firing Flynn would not end the Russia investigation, the President asked Christie to reach out to Comey and convey that the President liked him and he was part of ‘the team.’ That afternoon, the President cleared the room and asked Comey to ‘let[] Flynn go.’ ”

Did Trump talk to Comey about Flynn for fear of his own livelihood or out of sympathy for Flynn? The president did show sympathy for Flynn at least publicly. However, “At the same time, multiple senior advisors, including Bannon, Priebus, and Hicks, said that the President had become unhappy with Flynn well before Flynn was forced to resign and that the President was frequently irritated with Flynn.” He did not initially fire Flynn because of fear of negative press, not sympathy, according to Priebus.

The day before the president asked Comey for his “loyalty,” (and also mentioned to Comey that Flynn had judgement issues) he had asked McGahn, Bannon, ad Priebus not to talk about the Flynn investigation to anybody.

“The President’s decision to meet one-on-one with Comey contravened the advice of the White House Counsel that the President should not communicate directly with the Department of Justice to avoid any appearance of interfering in law enforcement activities. And the President later denied that he cleared the room and asked Comey to ‘let[] Flynn go’- a denial that would have been unnecessary if he believed his request was a proper exercise of prosecutorial discretion.”

McFarland – quid pro quo (favor for a favor) in exchange for an ambassadorship

“Finally, the President’s effort to have McFarland write an internal email denying that the President had directed Flynn to discuss sanctions with Kislyak highlights the President ‘s concern about being associated with Flynn’s conduct. The evidence does not establish that the President was trying to have McFarland lie. The President’s request, however, was sufficiently irregular that McFarland-who did not know the full extent of Flynn’s communications with the President and thus could not make the representation the President wanted-felt the need to draft an internal memorandum documenting the President’s request, and Eisenberg was concerned that the request would look like a quid pro quo in exchange for an ambassadorship.”

 

If Comey’s testimony is considered truthful, then Trump lied about his conversations with Comey. If Trump lies in court about this, then that is considered perjury.

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