Mueller: The team came to think of the investigation as covering two periods.
There was the period up to the firing of James Comey. During this period, people repeatedly told the president that he himself was not under investigation.
There was the period after the firing of James Comey, when the President found that firing Comey had put him in danger of an obstruction charge. Thereafter the President did many things directed against the team’s investigation.
Republicans: So, you could not establish an underlying crime by the President; officials told him that he wasn’t personally under investigation, but Democrats and their share of the media kept up making accusations, and Comey would not make a public statement that the President wasn’t under investigation. Did that lead you to inquire into Comey’s behavior during this period?
The Comey Phase.
Mueller: The team decided that none of the statutory or constitutional objections by the President’s lawyers justified NOT investigating the facts. (p. 202.)
Mueller: During the campaign, candidate Trump said a bunch of pro-Russian things; denied to the media all sorts of reports; after election, he doubted reports that the Russians had tried to help him win the election; and expressed concern that the reports would de-legitimize his victory. (p. 212.)
Republicans: So what? He’s got a right to his own opinion on Russia, even if it differs from President Obama’s opinion; lying to the media isn’t a crime; and the Democrats have been using the Russia investigation to de-legitimize the Trump administration for better than two years now.
Mueller: Michael Flynn, the National Security Adviser, lied to the FBI about a couple of phone calls to the Russian ambassador. Trump fired him, but asked Comey to “let Flynn go.” (pp. 217-218.)
Mueller: President Trump fired Comey after Comey refused to discuss the scope of the Russia investigation in testimony before Congress and did not state that President Trump himself was not being investigated. Three times previously, Comey had told Trump in private that he was not being investigated. (p. 244.)
Republicans: Did you try to evaluate the state of mind and intent of James Comey? The IG Report on his handling of the Clinton investigation indicated some curious behaviors. Comey’s press appearances on his book tour and afterward also might cast some light backward on his time at the FBI.
Mueller: The President believed that the Russia investigation was hurting his ability to govern. (pp. 245, 256 and fn. 500.)
Mueller: Firing Comey could have a chilling effect on the investigation. On the other hand, it wouldn’t stop the investigation. (p. 253.)