Congressman Hank Johnson

Representing the 4th District of Georgia

Rep. Johnson Questions Mueller on Trump and His Lawyer Trying to Fire Him as Special Counsel

July 24, 2019
Press Release

Congressman Gets to the Bottom of Whether Trump Tried to Fire Special Counsel Mueller Through White House Counsel Don McGahn, Who Appears in Russian Probe 157 Times

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senior member of the Judiciary Committee Congressman Hank Johnson (GA0-04) today hit on one of the most important questions surrounding Special Counsel Robert Mueller III’s investigation into wrongdoing by President Trump and whether the president tried to obstruct the investigation into his administration. Johnson, Chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, questioned Mr. Mueller for five minutes and established that not only did Trump try to get his White House Counsel Don McGahn to get Mr. Mueller fired but that it represents one of the key pillars of obstruction of justice by the President.

Below is the transcript of Rep. Johnson’s and Mr. Mueller’s exchange. To watch the video, click HERE | 5 Crimes In 5 Days Video

Rep. Johnson: Thank you. Director Mueller, I'd like to get us back on track here. Your investigation found that President Trump directed White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire you, isn't that correct?

Mr. Mueller: True.

Rep. Johnson: And the president claimed that he wanted to fire you because you had supposed conflicts of interest, isn't that correct?

Mr. Mueller: True.

Rep. Johnson: Now, you had no conflicts of interest that required your removal. Isn't that a fact?

Mr. Mueller: That's correct.

Rep. Johnson: And, in fact, Don McGahn advised the president that the asserted conflicts were, in his words, silly and not real conflicts. Isn't that true?

Mr. Mueller: I refer to the report on that episode.

Rep. Johnson: Well, page 85 of volume 2 speaks to that. And also, Director Mueller, DOJ ethics officials confirmed that you had no conflicts that would prevent you from serving as special counsel, isn't that correct?

Mr. Mueller: That's correct.

Rep. Johnson: But despite Don McGahn and the Department of Justice guidance, around May 23, 2017, the president, quote, prodded McGahn to complain to Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein about these supposed conflicts of interest, correct?

Mr. Mueller: Correct.

Rep. Johnson: And McGahn declined to call Rosenstein, or Rosenstein, I'm sorry, telling the president that it would look like still trying to meddle in the investigation and knocking out Mueller would be another fact used to claim obstruction of justice. Isn't that correct?

Mr. Mueller: Generally so, yes.

Rep. Johnson: In other words, Director Mueller, the White House Counsel told the president that if he tried to remove you that that could be another basis to allege that the president was obstructing justice, correct?

Mr. Mueller: That is generally correct, yes.

Rep. Johnson: Now, I'd like to review what happened after the president was warned about obstructing justice. On Tuesday—

Mr. Mueller: I'm sorry, Congressman. Do you have a citation?

Rep. Johnson: Yes. Volume 2, page 81 and 82.

Mr. Mueller: Thank you.

Rep. Johnson: Now I'd like to review what happened after the president was warned about obstructing justice. It's true that on Tuesday, June 13, 2017, the president dictated a press statement stating he had, quote, no intention of firing you, correct?

Mr. Mueller: Correct.

Rep. Johnson: But the following day, June 14, the media reported for the first time that you were investigating the president for obstruction of justice, correct?

Mr. Mueller: Correct.

Rep. Johnson: And then after learning for the first time that he was under investigation, the very next day the president, quote, issued a series of tweets acknowledging the existence of the obstruction investigation and criticizing it. Isn't that correct?

Mr. Mueller: Generally so.

Rep. Johnson: And then on Saturday, June 17, two days later, the president called Don McGahn at home from Camp David on a Saturday to talk about you. Isn't that correct?

Mr. Mueller: Correct.

Rep. Johnson: What was the significant—what was significant about that first weekend phone call that Don McGahn took from President Trump?

Mr. Mueller: I'm going to ask you to rely on what we wrote about those incidents.

Rep. Johnson: Well, you wrote in your report at page 85, volume 2, that on Saturday, June 27, 2017, the president called Don McGahn at home to have the special counsel removed. Now, did the president call Don McGahn more than once that day? I think it was two calls. On page 85 of your report you wrote, quote, on the first call, McGahn recalled that the president said something like, quote, you got to do this, you got to call Rod, correct?

Mr. Mueller: Correct.

Rep. Johnson: And your investigation and report found that Don McGahn was perturbed, to use your words, by the president's request to call Rod Rosenstein to fire him. Isn’t that correct?

Mr. Mueller: Well, there was a continuous colloquy, a continuous involvement of Don McGahn, of him responding to the president's entreaties.

Rep. Johnson: And he did not want to put himself in the middle of that. He did not want to have a role in asking the Attorney General to fire the special counsel, correct?

Mr. Mueller: Well, I would again refer you to the report and the way it is characterized in the report.

Rep. Johnson: Thank you. At volume 2, page 85, it states that he didn't want to have the Attorney General, he didn’t want to have a role in trying to fire the Attorney General. So at this point, I yield.

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