A Reader’s Guide to the Journalism Behind the Mueller Report

The Washington Post
Why did Obama dawdle on Russia’s hacking?
By David Ignatius
Where it shows up: Vol. 2, Page 29
Key quote from the report: “On January 12, 2017, a Washington Post columnist reported that Flynn and Kislyak communicated on the day the Obama Administration announced the Russia sanctions. The column questioned whether Flynn had said something to ‘undercut the U.S. sanctions’ and whether Flynn’s communications had violated the letter or spirit of the Logan Act.”
Why it’s important: One of the origin points of the investigation can be found in David Ignatius’s column, which revealed that Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s choice to serve as national security adviser, had talked to Russian officials during the transition period about possibly lifting sanctions once the Trump administration was in place. The piece set off a string of high-profile denials from the White House, causing DOJ officials to be alarmed since they knew Flynn’s statements to be untrue. Mr. Flynn resigned the following month.

The New York Times
Excerpts From The Times’s Interview With Trump
By Peter Baker, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman
Where it shows up: Vol. 2, Pages 93-94
Key quote from the report: “Hicks, who was present for the interview, recalled trying to ‘throw [herself] between the reporters and [the President]’ to stop parts of the interview, but the President ‘loved the interview.’”
Why it’s important: Mr. Mueller’s team never got Mr. Trump to sit down for a formal interview. Instead, the president submitted written responses, vetted by his lawyers, to questions from the special counsel. In July 2017, however, Mr. Trump spoke to these three reporters from The New York Times. The Mueller report seizes upon the president’s remarks to The Times about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his efforts to get Mr. Sessions to withdraw his recusal and reassert control over the Russia inquiry.

The Washington Post
Special counsel is investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice, officials say
By Devlin Barrett, Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Sari Horwitz
Where it shows up: Vol. 2, Pages 84-85
Key quote from the report: “On the evening of June 14, 2017, the Washington Post published an article stating that the Special Counsel was investigating whether the President had attempted to obstruct justice. […] On Saturday, June 17, 2017, the President called McGahn and directed him to have the Special Counsel removed.”
Why it’s important: The Washington Post’s reporting that the special counsel’s investigation had expanded into questions of obstruction seemed to have agitated the president. Only two days after The Post’s publication of its story, Mr. Trump called his White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, at home from Camp David, directing him to fire the special counsel.

The New York Times
Trump Ordered Mueller Fired, but Backed Off When White House Counsel Threatened to Quit
By Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman
Where it shows up: Vol. 2, Pages 113-116
Key quote from the report: “The President began the Oval Office meeting by telling McGahn that the New York Times story did not ‘look good’ and McGahn needed to correct it. McGahn recalled the President said, ‘I never said to fire Mueller. I never said “fire.” This story doesn’t look good. You need to correct this. You’re the White House counsel.’”
Why it’s important: In January, The New York Times reported that Mr. McGahn had threatened to quit after the president asked him to fire the special counsel. The fallout and the president’s reaction to the story are integral to the special counsel’s review of whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice.

The Washington Post
Trump moved to fire Mueller in June, bringing White House counsel to the brink of leaving
By Rosalind S. Helderman and Josh Dawsey
Where it shows up: Vol. 2, Page 114
Key quote from the report: “The next day, the Washington Post reported on the same event but added that McGahn had not told the President directly that he intended to resign rather than carry out the directive to have the Special Counsel terminated. In that respect, the Post story clarified the Times story, which could be read to suggest that McGahn had told the President of his intention to quit, causing the President to back down from the order to have the Special Counsel fired.”
Why it’s important: The Washington Post built on The Times’s reporting about Mr. McGahn’s refusal to fire Mr. Mueller.

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