Special Counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly obtained a letter drafted by President Donald Trump listing his reasons for firing former FBI director James Comey. The draft letter is allegedly evidence in the investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice by dismissing Comey.
On Sept. 1, sources familiar with the federal probe into the Russian government's role during the 2016 presidential election disclosed that the U.S. Department of Justice had provided Mueller with a copy of an original draft of Trump's letter of dismissal to Comey. The draft was not previously known to the public, The New York Times reports.
On May 9, Trump fired Comey, who was heading a federal probe into whether members of the Trump campaign had colluded with Russian officials to influence the 2016 presidential race. In a letter of dismissal, Trump stated that both Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had recommended Comey be removed.
"I have accepted their recommendation and you are hereby terminated and removed from office, effective immediately," Trump wrote at the time, according to PBS.
The letter of dismissal given to Comey was reportedly different from the original version. Earlier in May, Trump and White House Senior Policy Adviser Stephen Miller reportedly wrote a longer draft that allegedly made it clear that the president had decided to fire Comey before any consultation.
On May 8, Trump allegedly shared the draft version with senior aides. White House counsel Donald McGahn reportedly warned the president that the draft was problematic and advised him to dismiss Comey with an amended version, according to several administration officials who requested anonymity, The New York Times notes.
The draft letter allegedly indicates that the White House's assertion that Trump dismissed Comey based on the recommendations of the DOJ were false. Critics of the president have accused him of firing Comey to disrupt the probe into his campaign.
On March 20, Comey revealed during congressional testimony that his bureau was probing whether members of the Trump campaign had colluded with Russian officials, according to USA Today.
On May 11, two days after Comey's dismissal, Trump stated during an interview that the Russia probe had been a factor in his dismissal of Comey.
"And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself -- I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story," Trump told NBC News.
On May 17, the DOJ appointed Mueller to head the Russia probe, which would also encompass whether Trump obstructed justice by firing Comey, according to USA Today.
On Aug. 31, officials familiar with the federal probe disclosed that Trump's legal team had prepared memos offering reasons to Mueller why the Comey firing did not constitute obstruction, CNN reports.
White House attorney Ty Cobb, in reaction to reports that Mueller had obtained the draft of Comey's letter of dismissal, asserted that "the White House is committed to being open and transparent with the special counsel's investigation," The Chicago Tribune reports.