His months-long effort pushed the boundaries of presidential powers and the law, revealing a commander in chief consumed by self-interest and intent on having his top lieutenants lie or obfuscate on his behalf. The fact that many refused to do so may have helped save Trump from being charged with obstructing justice.
Those advisers effectively served as the guardrails in a
“The incidents were often carried out through one-on-one meetings in which the president sought to use his official power outside of usual channels,” Mueller wrote in his redacted 448-page report.
The episodes detailed by the special counsel paint a damning portrait of a president consumed by the investigation. Even after more than two years of revelations about Trump’s willingness to lie or press others to do so, Mueller’s report put into sharp focus the president’s disregard for governing norms and his willingness to challenge both legal and political limits.
Trump and his advisers can herald the fact that two years of investigation ended without criminal charges for the president, not only on obstruction but also on criminal conspiracy with
“His greatest rebuttal will be he’s in office, he’s going to remain in office and he’ll get re-elected because the
Yet the end of Mueller’s investigation did more than answer questions about whether Trump and his associates committed crimes. The probe underscored just how far Trump has gone in pushing the limits of the presidency and encouraging others to help him do so.
Trump’s actions were in line with his behavior as a businessman, when he employed a team of lawyers and fixers to protect him from legal trouble. One of those longtime confidants, lawyer
In other facets of his administration, Trump has also pressed legal bounds. He has repeatedly directed immigration advisers to take actions they deemed illegal, including blocking all migrants from seeking asylum. When it became clear in recent weeks that those advisers would not follow his orders, he ordered an overhaul of the top echelons of the
There were clear echoes of that behavior throughout Mueller’s report.
The most startling episode came in
Two days later, the president tried another avenue to alter the investigation. During a meeting with former campaign manager
Lewandowski didn’t want to deliver the message, according to Mueller, so he asked senior
Most of the advisers who blocked Trump’s requests have since left his administration.
EDITOR’S NOTE —
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An AP News Analysis