In June 2017, President Trump called his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to the Oval Office for a one-on-one meeting.
Two days earlier, the President had directed his White House counsel to have Robert Mueller removed as the special counsel.
After some small talk, Trump asked Lewandowski to deliver a message to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions: Curtail the special counsel’s Russia investigation and you’ll be the “most popular guy in the country.”
Lewandowski took down the dictated message, but never delivered it.
The role that Lewandowski, who lives in Windham, played in the President’s efforts to end Mueller’s investigation is among the many new revelations in the redacted version of the special counsel’s report released Thursday.
Lewandowski did not respond to a request for comment.
According to the report, Trump dictated to Lewandowski a statement that he wanted Sessions to read.
It stated in part: “our POTUS ... is being treated very unfairly. He shouldn’t have a Special Prosecutor/counsel b/c he hasn’t done anything wrong ... I am going to meet with the Special Prosecutor to explain this is very unfair and let the Special Prosecutor move forward with investigation election meddling for future elections so that nothing can happen in future elections.”
Lewandowski made plans to meet with Sessions the following evenings, but the attorney general cancelled. Lewandowski then left the country for a period of time.
Instead of setting up another meeting, Lewandowski asked a senior White House official, Rick Dearborn, to pass a message along to Sessions. Dearborn didn’t initially know what the message was.
Then on July 19, 2017 Lewandowski and Trump again met alone in the Oval Office and the President asked whether Sessions had received the message.
“Lewandowski told the President that the message would be delivered soon,” according to the special counsel’s report. “Lewandowski recalled that the President told him that if Sessions did not meet with him, Lewandowski should tell Sessions he was fired.”
Reince Priebus, the President’s then-chief of staff, told investigators that Lewandowski’s response to the President’s request was along the lines of “What can I do? I’m not an employee of the administration. I’m a nobody.”
But immediately following his second Oval Office meeting with Trump, Lewandowski gave Dearborn a written version of the message for Sessions.
“The message ‘definitely raised an eyebrow’ for Dearborn, and he recalled not wanting to ask where it came from or think further about doing anything with it,” according to the special counsel’s report, which goes on to say that “(Dearborn) recalled later telling Lewandowski that he had handled the situation, but he did not actually follow through with delivering the message to Sessions, and he did not keep a copy of the typewritten notes Lewandowski had given him.”
Trump’s various attempts to fire Mueller and Sessions or otherwise end the special counsel’s investigation into cooperation with Russia factored heavily into another aspect of the special counsel’s investigation: whether Trump obstructed justice.
“The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests,” according to the report.
The Mueller team ultimately “determined not to apply an approach that could potentially result in a judgment that the President committed crimes” in part because of the Department of Justice’s standing policy that a sitting president cannot be indicted, according to the report.
“We did not draw ultimate conclusions about the President’s conduct,” the special counsel wrote in the conclusion section of the report, adding “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. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment.”