By BBC News,
US President Donald Trump tried to get the man appointed to investigate his links to Russia fired, a long-awaited report has revealed.
Details are starting to emerge about the 448-page redacted document, collated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which has just been published.
Mr Trump’s legal team earlier described the report as a “total victory”.
It comes as the country’s top lawyer, William Barr, faces heavy criticism of his handling of the report’s release.
Mr Mueller’s report says he found no criminal conspiracy between Mr Trump’s campaign and Russia, but could not reach a concrete legal conclusion on obstruction allegations.
“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” the report says. “Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment.
“Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
What does the report reveal?
The report says that in June 2017, Mr Trump called Don McGahn – then a White House lawyer – to try to get Mr Mueller removed over alleged “conflicts of interest”.
Mr McGahn told the special counsel he resigned after feeling “trapped because he did not plan to follow the President’s directive” and would not have known what to say to Mr Trump had he called again.
The report also reveals:
Mr Trump reportedly used an expletive when the investigation was announced, adding: “Oh my god. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency”
Mr Mueller examined 10 actions by the president in regards to obstruction of justice
Investigators viewed the president’s written responses to their questions as “inadequate” but chose not to pursue a potentially lengthy legal battle to interview him
Mr Trump dictated a misleading response as to what the June 2016 meeting between Russian intermediaries and Trump campaign officials in Trump Tower was about – this had earlier been denied by Mr Trump’s lawyer and White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders
The special counsel considered charging the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr, and son-in-law Jared Kushner in regards to that meeting, but did not think they could meet the Department of Justice’s burden of proof
The mammoth document is the product of a 22-month investigation by Mr Mueller – who was appointed to probe Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
His team’s investigation has led to 35 people being charged, including several who were a part of the president’s campaign and administration.
How has Mr Trump reacted?
Speaking at an event for veterans, Mr Trump said he was having a “good day” – adding that there was “no collusion” and “no obstruction”.
Representatives for the president have also reiterated his view that the investigation was a “hoax” and called for reprisal inquiries.
“President Trump has been fully and completely exonerated yet again,” Mr Trump’s 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement.
“Now the tables have turned, and it’s time to investigate the liars who instigated this sham investigation into President Trump, motivated by political retribution and based on no evidence whatsoever.”
His comments followed a stream of social media posts by the president on Thursday regarding the report’s release.
How are the Democrats responding?
Senior Democrats are calling on Mr Mueller to testify to them directly in order to “restore public trust” after what they described as Mr Barr’s “partisan behaviour” regarding the report.
The attorney general, who was appointed by Mr Trump, held a news conference before the report was made public in which he backed the president.
His actions have provoked top Democrats to publicly question his impartiality and independence.
Representative Jerry Nadler confirmed that the House Committee on the Judiciary had already issued an invitation to the special counsel to appear “as soon as possible”.
“We cannot take Attorney General Barr’s word for it. We must read the full Mueller report, and the underlying evidence,” he said in a tweet.
“This is about transparency and ensuring accountability.”