The president said at the time that he was joking, but in the report, Michael T. Flynn, who would later work as national security adviser, said he was asked repeatedly by Mr. Trump to find the emails. Mr. Flynn contacted multiple people to help his search, including Peter Smith, a longtime Republican operative.
Mr. Smith created a company, raised tens of thousands of dollars and recruited security experts and business associates. He claimed “he was in contact with hackers ‘with ties and affiliations to Russia’ who had access to the emails, and that his efforts were coordinated with the Trump Campaign,” the report says.
The special counsel couldn’t establish if that was true. But they did establish that Mr. Smith wrote to the Trump campaign’s co-chairman, Sam Clovis, among others, about his efforts.
What about the obstruction investigation?
The report doesn’t clear Mr. Trump of charges that he obstructed justice, as Attorney General William P. Barr did last month — in fact, it shows that he certainly tried to interfere.
“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,” wrote Mr. Mueller’s team.
“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice,” they wrote, “we would so state.”
Here’s some of what they’re describing:
• For 13 days after Mr. Trump asked Mr. Session to resign in May 2017, the president held on to his resignation letter, showing it to aides on Air Force One, a decision that he was warned could function as a “shock collar” to influence the Justice Department. Finally, on May 30, the president returned the letter with a notation: “Not accepted.”