Mueller report highlights: The most interesting parts from 448 pages

NBC News picked out the most eye-opening passages from special counsel Robert Mueller's report.
Image: The Mueller report was released Thursday.
The Mueller report was released Thursday.NBC News / Getty Images

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By Adam Edelman

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and the Trump campaign was made public Thursday morning.

It sheds light on the Russian government's attempts to boost then-candidate Donald Trump, on whether Trump as president later tried to obstruct Mueller's investigation, and on the legal thinking behind some of Mueller's decisions during the investigation.

Here are some of the most interesting passages from the report.

“I’M F---ED”: TRUMP FELT MUELLER APPOINTMENT WOULD BE “END OF MY PRESIDENCY”

(Vol. II, p. 78) Trump was furious when he learned that a special counsel had been appointed, saying it was “the worst thing that ever happened to me.”

WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL DON MCGAHN DECIDED TO RESIGN BECAUSE HE SAID TRUMP HAD ASKED HIM "TO DO CRAZY S---"

(Vol. II, p. 88) The report says McGahn decided to resign after Trump told him “Mueller has to go" — a request McGahn told colleagues was "crazy s---"

RUSSIANS TARGETED CLINTON EMAILS WITHIN FIVE HOURS OF TRUMP'S CALLS TO DO SO

(Vol. I, p. 49) On July 27, 2016, Trump called on Russia to expose Clinton’s personal emails.

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"Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing," Trump said. "I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press."

Mueller wrote in his report that only five hours later, members of a key Russian intelligence unit “targeted for the first time Clinton’s personal office.”

MUELLER SAID TRUMP'S WRITTEN ANSWERS WERE "INADEQUATE," BUT IT WASN'T WORTH SUBPOENAING HIM

(Appendix C, p. C-2) Mueller wrote in the report that Trump’s written responses to his team’s questions were “incomplete or imprecise” and, on the whole, “inadequate.”

Nevertheless, Mueller said he declined to subpoena the president after having “weighed the costs of potentially lengthy constitutional litigation, with resulting delay in finishing our investigation, against the anticipated benefits for our investigation and report.”

A FULLER UNDERSTANDING OF WHY TRUMP DIDN’T COMMIT A CRIME BUT WAS NOT EXONERATED

(Vol. II, p. 8) In a section that had been previewed by Barr weeks earlier, Mueller wrote in his conclusion that his report does not draw “ultimate conclusions” about Trump’s conduct, due to "the facts and the applicable legal standards."

TRUMP’S EFFORTS TO INFLUENCE PROBE FAILED BECAUSE STAFFERS DIDN’T CARRY OUT HIS ORDERS

(Vol. II, p. 158) A key passage in the Mueller report makes clear that Trump had made efforts to affect the Russia investigation, but that they were “mostly unsuccessful” largely because top players surrounding Trump — including then-FBI Director James Comey, then-White House Counsel Don McGahn and former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski — didn’t follow his requests.

SESSIONS KEPT A RESIGNATION LETTER IN HIS POCKET EVERY TIME HE WENT TO THE WHITE HOUSE

(Vol. II, p. 96) Amid increasing — and increasingly fierce — attacks from Trump, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions decided that he should be prepared to resign his post at any time. So, in late July 2017, after another dressing down from Trump, Sessions prepared a resignation letter “and for the rest of the year carried it with him in his pocket every time he went to the White House.”

MANAFORT TOLD GATES: "WE'LL BE TAKEN CARE OF"

(Vol. II, p. 123) Former campaign manager Paul Manafort — who is facing years behind bars on conspiracy and federal tax and bank fraud charges brought by Mueller — told his longtime associate Rick Gates not to plead to any charges because the president's personal lawyer had assured him they'd "be taken care of," Mueller wrote in his report.

TRUMP ORDERED CAMPAIGN STAFF TO FIND CLINTON EMAILS

(Vol. I, p. 62) After Trump said in July 2016 that he hoped Russia would “find the 30,000 emails that are missing," the then-candidate asked individuals affiliated with his campaign to find the deleted Clinton emails.

Future national security adviser Michael Flynn charged “multiple” campaign supporters — Barbara Ledeen and Peter Smith — to help find them.

Mueller’s report said no one ever gained access to the emails.