Page:Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election.pdf/326

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U.S. Department of Justice

Attorney Work Product // May Contain Material Protected Under Fed. R. Crim. P. 6(e)

dismissed the story when asked about it by reporters, saying, "Fake news, folks. Fake news. A typical New York Times fake story."[1]

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.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4] 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.[5] 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.[6] 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.[7] Hicks recalled relaying to the President that one of his attorneys had spoken to McGahn's attorney about the issue.[8]

  1. Sophie Tatum & Kara Scannell, Trump denies he called for Mueller's firing, CNN (Jan. 26, 2018); 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).
  2. 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 of leaving, Washington Post (Jan. 26, 2018).
  3. Rosalind S. Helderman & Josh Dawsey, Trump moved to fire Mueller in June, bringing White House counsel to the brink of leaving, Washington Post (Jan. 26, 2018); see McGahn 3/8/17 302, at 3–4.
  4. McGahn 3/8/18 302, at 3 (agent note).
  5. McGahn 3/8/18 302, at 3 (agent note).
  6. McGahn 3/8/18 302, at 3–4 (agent note).
  7. McGahn 3/8/18 302, at 4 (agent note).
  8. 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.