By Jon Dougherty
Former 2016 Trump campaign manager and White House official Corey Lewandowski pushed back against allegations in Robert Mueller’s report that the president asked him to fire the special counsel shortly after his appointment.
“No, the president never asked me to help him fire Robert Mueller,” Lewandowski told Fox News‘ Ed Henry on Friday.
“Ed, look, as you know and have articulated well, I’ve been a friend of the president’s for many, many years now, and he and I have had multiple conversations, which I always respect the privacy of those conversations, and we talk through things all the time,” he added.
“But never did the president ask me to go and fire Robert Mueller, nor do I have any authority, or did I have any authority to do so.”
According to page 158 of the report, “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.”
In particular, Mueller claims that Lewandowski, former deputy national security adviser designate Kathleen Troia “K.T.” McFarland and former White House counsel Don McGahn were among those who refused to carry out Trump’s alleged orders to fire Mueller.
According to NPR:
When both McGahn and Sessions wouldn’t follow directives to fire or limit Mueller’s powers, Trump turned to a loyalist who didn’t work in the White House, his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. According to the report, Trump pressured Lewandowski to ask Sessions to give a speech to walk back his recusal.
Mueller later writes that Trump again pressured Lewandowski a month later when the message had still not been transmitted to [then-Attorney General Jeff] Sessions:
One month later, in another private meeting with Lewandowski on July 19, 2017, the President asked about the status of his message for Sessions to limit the Special Counsel investigation to future election interference. Lewandowski told the President that the message would be delivered soon. Hours after that meeting, the President publicly criticized Sessions in an interview with the New York Times, and then issued a series of tweets making it clear that Sessions’s job was in jeopardy.
Despite his apparent promise to the president, Lewandowski dragged his feet. Instead, he “asked senior White House official Rick Dearborn to deliver it to Sessions” because he “believed Dearborn would be a better messenger because he had a longstanding relationship with Sessions.” But “Dearborn was uncomfortable with the task and did not follow through.”
Lewandowski says that’s not at all accurate.
After listening to all sides, and despite having the authority to fire Mueller, “he never asked anyone” to do so, the former campaign manager said.
In fact, Mueller cites an alleged conversation that POTUS had with Sessions:
“I’m not going to do anything or direct you to do anything. I just want to be treated fairly.” In response, Sessions volunteered that he had never seen anything “improper” on the campaign and told the President there was a “whole new leadership team” in place. He did not unrecuse.
“Never did I ask [Sessions] to interfere in the Mueller investigation,” Lewandowski noted.
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