As the group in the Oval Office talked, one of Mr. Ryan of Wisconsin, then the speaker of the House, had told reporters — that Mr.
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Trump had asked Mr. Flynn to resign. It was unclear where Mr. Ryan had gotten that information, but Mr. Trump seized on Mr.
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Trump turned to the White House press secretary at the time, Sean Spicer, who was preparing to brief the news media. The president appeared to have little concern about what he told the public about Mr. Trump said over lunch that day, according to a new book by Chris Christie , a former New Jersey governor and a longtime Trump ally. Christie was taken aback. Christie wrote that he told Mr. Flynn met with the Russians. That was the problem. I fired Flynn.
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As Mr. Trump was lunching with Mr. Spicer about what he should say from the White House podium about what was a sensitive national security investigation. But when Mr. Spicer overstated how exhaustively the White House had investigated Mr. Flynn and that he said, wrongly, that administration lawyers had concluded there were no legal issues surrounding Mr. The memo written by the lawyers said that Mr.
Spicer was presented with a longer list of his misstatements. The White House never publicly corrected the record. Later that day, Mr. Trump confronted the F. Comey, in the Oval Office. The president told him that Mr. Spicer had done a great job explaining how the White House had handled the firing.
Then he asked Mr. Comey to end the F. Flynn, and said that Mr. Flynn was a good guy. Comey responded, according to a memo he wrote at the time, that Mr. Flynn was indeed a good guy. But he said nothing about ending the F. By March, Mr. Trump was in a rage that his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, had recused himself from the Russia inquiry because investigators were looking into the campaign, of which Mr.
Sessions had been a part. Trump was also growing increasingly frustrated with Mr. Comey, who refused to say publicly that the president was not under investigation.
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Trump finally fired Mr. Comey in May. A week after the firing, The Times disclosed that the president had asked Mr. Comey to end the Flynn investigation. The next day, the deputy attorney general, Rod J.
Rosenstein, appointed Mr. Mueller, a Republican, as special counsel. Instead of ending the Russia investigation by firing Mr. Comey, Mr. Trump had drastically raised the stakes. On Twitter and in news media interviews, Mr.
Trump tried to pressure investigators and undermine the credibility of potential witnesses in the Mueller investigation. He directed much of his venom at Mr. The president humiliated Mr.
Sessions at every turn, and stunned Washington when he said during an interview with The Times that he never would have named Mr. Sessions attorney general if he had known Mr. Sessions would step aside from the investigation. Privately, Mr. Trump tried to remove Mr. The president even called his former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, over the Fourth of July weekend to ask him to pressure Mr.
Sessions to resign. Lewandowski was noncommittal and never acted on the request. One of Mr. Flynn — to discuss possible pardons. The discussions raised questions about whether the president was willing to offer pardons to influence their decisions about whether to plead guilty and cooperate in the Mueller investigation.
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The president even tried to fire Mr. Mueller himself , a move that could have brought an end to the investigation. Just weeks after Mr. McGahn II, who would have been responsible for carrying out the order, refused and threatened to quit. Gaetz recalled in an interview. The two men believed that Republican leaders, who publicly praised the appointment of Mr.
So they began to investigate the investigators. Within days of their conversation, Mr.
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Gaetz and Mr. Jordan drafted a letter to Mr. Sessions and Mr. Rosenstein, the first call for the appointment of a second special counsel to essentially reinvestigate Hillary Clinton for her handling of her emails while secretary of state — the case had ended in the summer of — as well as the origins of the F. Flynn and other Trump associates. The letter itself, with the signatures of only 20 House Republicans, gained little traction at first.
But an important shift was underway: At a time when Mr. Jordan began huddling with like-minded Republicans, sometimes including Representative Mark Meadows, a press-savvy North Carolinian close to Mr. He worked closely with Mr. Flynn during the Trump transition after the election, and he had a history of battling the C. In the spring of , Mr. Nunes sought to bolster Mr.
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