Attorney General William Barr asserted to the Senate Judiciary Committee that President Trump was concerned with special counsel Robert Mueller’s potential conflicts of interest when he tried to remove him.
Mueller acknowledges this, but says Trump was immediately told the conflicts of interest were “ridiculous” and didn’t affect Mueller’s service.
"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 today that Trump may not have believed he was asking White House Counsel Don 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."
Here’s what Mueller’s report says about the episode with then-White House counsel Don McGahn:
“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 notes. "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.”
Mueller identifies this motivation as part of Trump’s intent to prevent the investigation of 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.