‘I’m f—ed’: Trump called Mueller appointment ‘the end of my presidency’
POLITICO, AIWA! NO!//”Everyone tells me if you get one of these independent counsels it ruins your presidency,” President Donald Trump said, according to the Mueller report.
President Donald Trump responded to news of special counsel Robert Mueller’s 2017 appointment by telling then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he was “fucked,” according to a redacted version of Mueller’s report released Thursday.
“Oh my God,” the president told Sessions, according to the report. “This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked.”
Trump went on to lambaste his attorney general for allowing Mueller’s appointment to happen, telling Sessions that the attorney general’s job had been to protect him and that Sessions had “let [him] down.” The president, according to Mueller’s report, asked Sessions: “How could you let this happen, Jeff?”
The interaction was recorded in notes taken by Session’s chief of staff, Jody Hunt.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein authorized Mueller to head the investigation in May 2017 in the wake of Trump’s move to fire then-FBI Director James Comey, who had been overseeing the bureau’s probe into allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Mueller’s appointment came after the president conceded that he had dismissed Comey with the Russia investigation weighing on his mind, an explanation that contradicted the White House’s initial explanation of the firing.
It was Rosenstein, not Sessions, who appointed Mueller because Sessions had recused himself from all Justice Department matters relatedto the 2016 election because of his prominent role as a Trump campaign surrogate and his interactions with Russia‘s then-ambassador to the U.S.
Rosenstein called Sessions to tell him about the appointment while the attorney general was with Trump in the Oval Office conducting interviews for a new FBI director, according to Mueller’s report. Sessions stepped out of the room to take the call, then delivered the news to the president, Mueller wrote in his report. Upon hearing the news, Trump slumped in his chair and lashed out at Sessions for his decision to recuse himself.
By POLITICO STAFF
Trump told Sessions that his selection as attorney general had been his most important appointment and claimed Sessions “let him down,” according to Mueller’s report. The president contrasted Sessions with former Attorneys General Eric Holder, who served under President Barack Obama, and Robert Kennedy, who served under his brother, President John F. Kennedy.
“Everyone tells me if you get one of these independent counsels it ruins your presidency,” Trump 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.”
Kellyanne Conway, senior counselor to the president, on Thursday pushed back on the narrative as recounted in Mueller‘s report, claiming she was surprised to read about the episode because it — along with other remarks attributed to Trump throughout the report — seemed out of the ordinary for Trump.
“I was very surprised to see that by somebody who‘s been here sparingly over the last couple years,“ she told reporters on the driveway of the White House. “I was very surprised to see that because that was not the reaction of the president that day when I was there. And he has never — there are words where the president is quoted throughout the report where he does not use those words. So I am not sure, you can ask the people about that.“
She contended that in all of her time working alongside Trump, she hadn‘t heard him express any kind of resignation despite the onslaught of criticism.
“He has never once on the campaign said, ‘I think we should resign, I am not going to run anymore, let’s just, I am done here. I can go back to my happy life, make billions of dollars,’“ Conway said. “He has never said that during the campaign and he has certainly never said it since we‘re here. He has never expressed that, ‘My presidency is over.’”