The special counsel’s report on election meddling found President Donald Trump provided insufficient answers to their written questions and refused to sit for an interview with investigators, effectively refusing to fully cooperate with the investigation.
Attorney General William Barr, just minutes before the report was released, falsely told reporters that the White House had “fully cooperated” with the investigation.
It took the special counsel “more than a year” to obtain written answers from the president, according to the report. Those answers would be sworn testimony subject to perjury charges if the president answered questions falsely.
Investigators found the president’s answers insufficient in several ways. They wrote in the report that the White House stated on more than 30 occasions that he “does not ‘recall’ or ‘remember’ or have an ‘independent recollection’ of information called for by the questions.”
Investigators asked again for a sit-down interview, but the president’s lawyers declined. According to Bob Woodward’s book Fear about the Trump White House, the president’s own lawyer said he was a “fucking liar,” and therefore could not sit down for an in-person interview under oath, because of the risk that the president would perjure himself.
This section of the report, which contains a grand jury redaction, goes on to say that investigators with the special counsel “considered whether to issue a subpoena for his testimony,” so inadequate were the written answers, but decided the legal fight would needlessly prolong the investigation.
Mueller’s team determined it could obtain a substantial quantity of information from other sources to fill in the blanks.
Trump may have declined to be interviewed because he feared Mueller’s existential threat to his presidency. According to a memo held in evidence by the special counsel, when the president learned of Mueller’s appointment, he said to aides, “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked.”