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GOP Sen. Mitt Romney: 'I am sickened' over Trump's conduct revealed in Mueller report

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The redacted version of the Mueller report is now available from the attorney general. Here are the key takeaways from it.
USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – Republican Sen. Mitt Romney said the conduct by President Donald Trump and his campaign outlined in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report left him “sickened” and “appalled” — marking one of the first prominent Republicans to make such critical comments of the president in the aftermath of the blockbuster investigation. 

Romney, R-Utah, offered his reaction on Twitter after reading the full 448-page report, writing that while he was pleased that Mueller concluded that the Trump campaign did not conspire with Russia to interfere with the 2016 election, the level of lies and dishonesty outlined in the report left him with the realization of “how far we have strayed from the aspirations and principles out the founders.” 

“I am sickened and the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the President,” wrote Romney, a one-time presidential nominee who has repeatedly clashed with Trump over the years. “I am also appalled that, among other things,” fellow citizens working in a campaign for the president welcomed help from Russia — including information that had been illegally obtained.” 

The highly anticipated report, which was released Thursday, revealed what news outlets many have reported for years: the behind-the-scenes chaos within the White House. 

More: Mueller report lifts curtain on White House chaos as aides ignore, manage Trump

More: Sarah Sanders admits she lied about FBI trust in Comey — and other false statements revealed in Mueller report

More: Trump repeatedly tried to impede the Russia probe, Mueller report said. Was it obstruction?

When it came to the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia, some aides “lied” to the special counsel and Congress about their interactions. “Those lies materially impaired the investigation of Russian election interference,” the report stated. While noting that the campaign expected to “benefit” from Russia’s efforts, Mueller’s office did not find evidence that their conduct amounted to a crime.

The report also suggests that, in some instances, Trump’s aides were attempting to protect the president by not carrying out his requests. The murkiness around their motivations – and his – are a central reason why it was difficult for the special counsel’s team to determine whether the president attempted to obstruct justice. 

“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,” Mueller wrote in the report. 

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  • View outside Department of Justice before Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein hold a news conference on Thursday, April 18, 2019.1 of 18
  • US Attorney General William Barr, center, Acting Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Ed O'Callaghan, left, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein hold a press conference at the US Department of Justice in Washington, DC on April 18, 2019. The briefing comes just before the release of a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. 2 of 18
  • People listen while US Attorney General William Barr holds a press conference about the release of the Mueller Report at the Department of Justice April 18, 2019, in Washington, DC. US Attorney General Bill Barr said Thursday that the White House fully cooperated with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Russian election meddling and that President Donald Trump took no action to thwart the probe. There is substantial evidence to show that the president was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks, Barr said ahead of the release of the Mueller report. 3 of 18
  • People listen outside of the Department of Justice to the Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein holding a news conference on Thursday, April 18, 2019 discussing Justice Department special counsel Robert Muellers report.4 of 18
  • Television technicians watch Attorney General William Barr's press conference from the briefing room of the White House in Washington, DC on April 18, 2019.5 of 18
  • Mallory Snodgrass, right, and Paris Sistilli, students from Broadneck High School in Annapolis, MD, listen to the press conference being held by Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein live on a cellphone outside of the Department of Justice on Thursday, April 18, 2019. 6 of 18
  • Photojournalists photograph four pages of the Mueller Report laid on the witness table in the House Intelligence Committee hearing room on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Thursday, April 18, 2019.7 of 18
  • Special counsel Robert Mueller's report, with redactions, as released on Thursday, April 18, 2019, is photographed in Washington.8 of 18
  • President Donald Trump stands near a portrait of George Washington during a Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride event in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, April 18, 2019, in Washington. 9 of 18
  • House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., reads the Mueller Report in his Capitol Hill office, in Washington, Thursday, April 18, 2019. 10 of 18
  • Special counsel Robert Mueller's redacted report on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election is photographed Thursday, April 18, 2019, in Washington.11 of 18
  • TV crews work outside of the Senate Judiciary Committee's office on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on April 18, 2019.  Today the Department of Justice released special counsel Robert Muellers redacted report on Russian election interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.12 of 18
  • Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway speaks to reporters outside of the White House, April 18, 2019 in Washington, DC. Today the Department of Justice released special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian election interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. 13 of 18
  • Television networks print out and read the released Mueller Report on the sidewalk outside of the Department of Justice following Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein holding a news conference on Thursday, April 18, 2019 to discuss Justice Department special counsel Robert Muellers report.14 of 18
  • Television networks print out and read the released Mueller Report on the sidewalk outside of the Department of Justice.15 of 18
  • Television networks print out and read the released Mueller Report on the sidewalk outside of the Department of Justice following Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein holding a news conference on Thursday, April 18, 2019 to discuss Justice Department special counsel Robert Muellers report.16 of 18
  • Special counsel Robert Mueller's redacted report on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election is photographed Thursday, April 18, 2019, in Washington. The photos in the report show George Papadopoulos and others in meetings.17 of 18
  • People stop and watch outside of the Department of Justice before Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would hold a news conference on Thursday, April 18, 2019.18 of 18

Those people included then-White House Counsel Don McGahn. Trump, according to the report, ordered that McGahn make a call to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and have Mueller fired, which McGahn told Mueller he refused to do and instead, threatened to resign. 

When the episode leaked to the press, Trump denied it ever happened and dubbed it “fake”

On the report as a whole, Romney said it was “good news” that Mueller did not establish enough evidence to charge the president with a crime, noting the very difficult effects that would have had on the country, but the evidence noted was troubling. 

He ended on a somber note, “reading the report is a sobering revelation of how far we have strayed from the aspirations and principles of the founders.”

Contributing: Gregory Korte and John Fritze

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