CNN

Barr downplays Trump’s effort to remove Mueller in testimony

May 1, 2019, 12:41 PM
US Attorney General William Barr testifies during a US House Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on the Department of Justice Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, April 9, 2019. Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

(CNN) — Multiple times during his testimony Wednesday, Attorney General William Barr downplayed special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings and analysis in his obstruction of justice investigation of the President, especially regarding President Donald Trump’s direction to then-White House counsel Don McGahn to remove the special counsel.

Mueller found that Trump had indeed told McGahn to remove Mueller in June 2017. Mueller also found that Trump’s directive to McGahn related to a legal proceeding, and that Trump had the motivation to thwart the investigation.

Yet Barr asserted Wednesday morning to the Senate that Trump was concerned with Mueller’s potential conflicts of interest when he tried to remove him.

Barr before the Senate Judiciary Committee

Mueller acknowledges this, but says Trump was immediately told the supposed conflicts of interest were “ridiculous” and didn’t affect Mueller’s service. (The possible conflicts Trump had flagged questioned Mueller’s former job at a private law firm that represented subjects of the investigation, Mueller’s membership at a Trump golf course in Northern Virginia and that Mueller had interviewed for the FBI director job under Trump. The Justice Department had examined the potential conflicts and cleared Mueller to be special counsel.)

“This evidence shows that the President was not just seeking an examination of whether conflicts existed but instead was looking to use asserted conflicts as a way to terminate the Special Counsel,” Mueller wrote.

Mueller’s report also directly refutes Barr’s statement Wednesday that Trump may not have believed he was asking McGahn to say something false. In his analysis of the episodes with McGahn, the Mueller report says: “There also is evidence that the President knew that he should not have made those calls to McGahn.”

What the Mueller report concludes

In short, Mueller says the idea that he had conflicts was an excuse Trump wanted to use to fire him.

“The President’s initial direction that [then-attorney general] Jeff Sessions should limit the Special Counsel’s investigation came just two days after the President had ordered McGahn to have the Special Counsel removed, which itself followed public reports that the President was personally under investigation for obstruction,” Mueller wrote. “The sequence of those events raises an inference that after seeking to terminate the Special Counsel, the President sought to exclude his and his campaign’s conduct from the investigation’s scope.”

RELATED: Barr stands behind use of ‘spying’ to describe Trump campaign surveillance

Mueller identifies this motivation as part of Trump’s intent to prevent the investigation from continuing.

“Substantial evidence indicates that the President’s attempts to remove the Special Counsel were linked to the Special Counsel’s oversight of investigations that involved the President’s conduct– and, most immediately, to reports that the President was being investigated for potential obstruction of justice,” Mueller also wrote.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Today’s Top Stories

CNN

Hurricane Ian flooding in Naples, Florida....
Amir Vera, Eric Levenson, Jason Hanna and Nouran Salahieh, CNN

Hurricane Ian weakens to Category 3 after making landfall in Florida, but officials warn the worst is yet to come

Hurricane Ian has weakened to a Category 3 storm hours after pummeling southwestern Florida Wednesday, but officials are warning people to stay inside as the worst of the storm is still on the way.
1 day ago
Hurricane Ian Satellite image (CNN)...
Elizabeth Weiler

Hurricane Ian’s ‘extremely dangerous’ eyewall near Category 5 strength is moving ashore in southwestern Florida

DeSantis activated 5,000 Florida National Guard members for Ian's response operations, and 2,000 more guardsmen from Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina were being activated to assist.
1 day ago
(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)...
Jennifer Hansler, CNN

US Embassy warns Americans to leave Russia

 (CNN) — The U.S. Embassy in Moscow issued a security alert overnight that urged U.S. citizens to leave Russia immediately while there are still options for departing the country. The alert comes in the wake of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order for partial mobilization of Russian men to fight in his war in Ukraine. “Russia […]
1 day ago
An illustration shows NASA's DART spacecraft and the Italian Space Agency's LICIACube before the co...
Ashley Strickland, CNN

NASA’s DART mission successfully slams into an asteroid

Deemed as a success, a NASA spacecraft intentionally slammed into an asteroid in the first attempt of planetary defense.
2 days ago
Hurricane Ian could be the storm that the west coast of Florida has always feared -- especially Tam...
Jennifer Gray, CNN Meteorologist

Here’s why meteorologists say Ian’s exact path is still uncertain

Hurricane Ian could be the storm that the west coast of Florida has always dreaded.
2 days ago
In this photo provided by Wreckhouse Press a home fights against high winds caused by post Tropical...
Nouran Salahieh, CNN

Hundreds of thousands without power in Atlantic Canada after Fiona rumbles north

The storm named Fiona slammed into Canada's eastern seaboard with hurricane-force winds and torrential rainfall Saturday, pulling buildings into the ocean.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Barr downplays Trump’s effort to remove Mueller in testimony