"I'm f**ked": Trump lambasted Sessions, kept his resignation letter after Mueller appointment

By Camilo Montoya-Galvez

/ CBS News

Trump "having a good day" after Mueller report

When he learned Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had appointed a special counsel to probe possible ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, President Trump lambasted then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Russian investigation, telling him the move could precipitate "the end" of his presidency.

"Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I'm f**ked," Mr. Trump told Sessions during an Oval Office meeting.

The tense exchange is detailed in the redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report, which was released Thursday. Citing interviews with Sessions and his chief of staff at the time, Jody Hunt, Mueller wrote that the president asked Sessions to resign for failing to "protect" him.

The Mueller Report More

More in The Mueller Report

"Everyone tells me if you get one of these independent counsels it ruins your presidency," Mr. Trump told Sessions, according to Mueller. "It takes years and years and I won't be able to do anything. This is the worst thing that ever happened to me."

The next day, according to the report, Sessions tendered his resignation, but Mr. Trump placed the letter in his pocket and repeatedly pressed the attorney general if he wanted to remain at the helm of the Justice Department. After Sessions said he wanted to continue in his post, Mr. Trump told him he could stay and shook his hand — but kept the resignation letter.

According to Mueller, Mr. Trump's decision to keep Sessions' letter concerned top White House staff, including then chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon, who believed the move could be seen as an attempt by the president to exert improper influence over the Justice Department. Citing interviews conducted by his team, Mueller said Priebus once asserted Mr. Trump had the Justice Department "by the throat."

"Priebus told Sessions it was not good for the President to have the letter because it would function as a kind of "shock collar" that the President could use any time he wanted," the report read.

According to Mueller, on May 30, 12 days after Sessions handed his resignation, Mr. Trump finally returned the letter with a notification saying he did not accept the resignation.

This conversation is not the only one described in the Mueller report in which Mr. Trump berated Sessions for recusing from the Russia investigation. On May 3, incensed that former FBI Director James Comey did not tell a Congressional panel that the president was not under investigation, Mr. Trump told Sessions he felt powerless because of his attorney general's recusal.

"I appointed you and you recused yourself. You left me on an island. I can't do. anything," Mr. Trump said, according to the report.

First published on April 18, 2019 / 1:59 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

"I'm f**ked": Trump lambasted Sessions after Mueller appointment

"This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency," the president told Sessions, according to Mueller's report

11M ago

"Crazy sh*t": McGahn refused Trump order to fire Mueller

McGahn told special counsel investigators that Mr. Trump called him twice, telling him "Mueller has to go"

12M ago

Sears sues former chairman Eddie Lampert

The once-mighty retailer alleged its former billionaire chairman stripped the company of more than $2 billion in assets

22M ago

In rare defeat, Amazon retreats from its China business

Retailer is pulling the plug on its Amazon.cn marketplace amid fierce competition from players like Alibaba and JD.com

updated 34M ago

Special Report: Mueller report released

Special counsel Robert Mueller's 400+-page report on Russian interference in the 2016 election has finally been released. CBS News' Norah O'Donnell, Gayle King and John Dickerson anchor our coverage of the developing story.

updated 8M ago 53:40

"I'm f**ked": Trump lambasted Sessions after Mueller appointment

"This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency," the president told Sessions, according to Mueller's report

11M ago

"Crazy sh*t": McGahn refused Trump order to fire Mueller

McGahn told special counsel investigators that Mr. Trump called him twice, telling him "Mueller has to go"

12M ago

Read Robert Mueller's full report on Russian interference

Mueller's long-awaited report on Russian interference in the 2016 election was released to Congress and the public Thursday morning

2H ago

Trump tweets "Game of Thrones" meme about Mueller report

"For the haters and the radical left democrats – GAME OVER," the president tweeted

2H ago

Trump says he's having a "good day" upon release of Mueller report

"I'm having a good day too, it was called, no collusion, no obstruction," the president told veterans in the East Room

2H ago

Workers rush to secure Notre Dame's weakened structure – live updates

Fire officials warn fire-weakened Notre Dame Cathedral remains very fragile, extremely dangerous

updated 53M ago

Let us prey: Scammers target Notre Dame donors

Host of phony fundraising sites operated by criminals already have popped up in the aftermath of the Notre Dame fire

3H ago

16-year-old TV and film actress collapses and dies

She appeared in the 2013 movie Cloud Atlas, alongside Tom Hanks and Halle Berry

updated 46M ago

Here's who has been charged in Robert Mueller's probe

To date, the Mueller investigation has yielded charges against 34 individuals, and seven guilty pleas

5H ago

"CBS This Morning" to report on every continent for Earth Day

On Monday, April 22, 2019, "CBS This Morning" will bring viewers stories from every corner of the globe

6H ago

Entertainment

Preview: K-pop sensation BTS

"Sunday Morning" correspondent Seth Doane goes behind the scenes with one of the music world's biggest hitmakers, the Korean boy band BTS. In this preview of a report to air on CBS April 21, Kim Nam-joon, a.k.a. RM, talks about the band presenting at this year's Grammys, and their promise to return.

updated 12M ago 00:41

Rapper Kodak Black arrested on drug and weapons charges at border

He was found with marijuana and officers discovered a Glock 9mm pistol, police said

1H ago

Trump tweets "Game of Thrones" meme about Mueller report

"For the haters and the radical left democrats – GAME OVER," the president tweeted

2H ago

16-year-old TV and film actress collapses and dies

She appeared in the 2013 movie Cloud Atlas, alongside Tom Hanks and Halle Berry

updated 46M ago

Alex Trebek shares health update with fans

"I've always tried to be straight with you and I'm not going to stop now," he said in a Twitter video

3H ago

In rare defeat, Amazon retreats from its China business

Retailer is pulling the plug on its Amazon.cn marketplace amid fierce competition from players like Alibaba and JD.com

updated 34M ago

Pinterest pinned hopes on big IPO. Looks like it got one

Stock price — trading under ticker symbol "PINS" — zooms to $25 a share from $19 opening bid within hours of NYSE debut

1H ago

Your tax returns may be on the dark web

Identity theft has never been this cheap — you can buy anything from old tax returns to bank accounts on the dark web. CBS News MoneyWatch reporter Irina Ivanova has more on the newest cyberthreat.

20H ago 04:55

MoneyWatch headlines: Apple & Qualcomm settle

Qualcomm's stock jumped after a surprise settlement with Apple, and T-Mobile's merger with Sprint could be in jeopardy. These headlines and more from CBS MoneyWatch.

23H ago 01:19

Your old tax returns could be on sale for $1.04

Identity theft has never been this cheap — you can buy anything from old tax returns to bank accounts on the dark web

21H ago

Evidence found for first molecule in the universe

"This molecule was lurking out there, but we needed the right instruments," a top NASA scientist said

20H ago

Watch: Rocket launches cargo to space station

An Antares rocket blasted off from the Wallops Island Flight Facility in Virginia carrying a Cygnus cargo ship loaded with supplies for the International Space Station.

20H ago 01:45

Scientists partially revived a pig's brain after the animal died

The death of brain cells may not be as sudden, or as irreversible, as previously believed

21H ago

Rocket launches with cargo for space station

Loaded with 3.8 tons of supplies and equipment, the Cygnus cargo ship will need two days to reach the space station

20H ago

Unlikely allies unite to save Arizona forests

Our new series, Common Ground, highlights people who are setting aside partisan differences and solving problems. Former Arizona senator and CBS News contributor Jeff Flake went to his home state to look at an unprecedented effort to tackle wildfires, meeting with unlikely allies who are uniting to save Arizona's forests.

23H ago 06:41

Gene therapy may be cure for "bubble boy disease"

Eight babies with "bubble boy disease" have had it fixed by a gene therapy made from one of the immune system's worst enemies

1H ago

Deadly fungus is a problem but don't freak out just yet

"This bug, this germ, raises the stakes in the issue of drug-resistant infections," says a reporter who uncovered the scope of the problem

1H ago

Flight attendant in coma after contracting measles

The 43-year-old woman, who was seemingly healthy before getting measles, has now been in a coma for 10 days

2H ago

Alex Trebek shares health update with fans

"I've always tried to be straight with you and I'm not going to stop now," he said in a Twitter video

3H ago

Texas baby born without skin in critical condition

Doctos have tentatively diagnosed him with a rare genetic disorder

5H ago

Sears sues former chairman Eddie Lampert

The once-mighty retailer alleged its former billionaire chairman stripped the company of more than $2 billion in assets

22M ago

In rare defeat, Amazon retreats from its China business

Retailer is pulling the plug on its Amazon.cn marketplace amid fierce competition from players like Alibaba and JD.com

updated 34M ago

Earth Day challenge for gardeners: Don't poison bees

To help, more garden centers are curbing, ending or labeling plants treated with potentially bee-harming pesticides

9H ago

Pinterest pinned hopes on big IPO. Looks like it got one

Stock price — trading under ticker symbol "PINS" — zooms to $25 a share from $19 opening bid within hours of NYSE debut

1H ago

Let us prey: Scammers target Notre Dame donors

Host of phony fundraising sites operated by criminals already have popped up in the aftermath of the Notre Dame fire

3H ago

Rapper Kodak Black arrested on drug and weapons charges at border

He was found with marijuana and officers discovered a Glock 9mm pistol, police said

1H ago

Let us prey: Scammers target Notre Dame donors

Host of phony fundraising sites operated by criminals already have popped up in the aftermath of the Notre Dame fire

3H ago

Man arrested with gas cans at St. Patrick's Cathedral

The NYPD said it is "too early" to determine the suspect's motive

4H ago

Woman sought in Columbine school threats found dead

The alleged threats led to the closure of school for more than half a million students on Colorado's Front Range Wednesday

18H ago

Dozens charged in major opioid bust across U.S.

53 medical professionals, including one accused of trading pills for sex, allegedly participated in the illegal prescription and distribution of opioids and other narcotics

15H ago

Evidence found for first molecule in the universe

"This molecule was lurking out there, but we needed the right instruments," a top NASA scientist said

20H ago

Watch: Rocket launches cargo to space station

An Antares rocket blasted off from the Wallops Island Flight Facility in Virginia carrying a Cygnus cargo ship loaded with supplies for the International Space Station.

20H ago 01:45

Rocket launches with cargo for space station

Loaded with 3.8 tons of supplies and equipment, the Cygnus cargo ship will need two days to reach the space station

20H ago

Researchers reveal changes to astronaut's body

Retired astronaut Scott Kelly, who spent 340 days in space during an extended stay aboard the International Space Station in 2015-16, did not suffer any major long-term health effects that might raise warning signs for future long-duration flights, scientists reported Thursday. CBS News space consultant Bill Harwood joins CBSN with details.

Apr 11 01:08

Israeli spacecraft fails to land on moon

CBS News space consultant Bill Harwood speaks to CBSN about the failed moon landing and Thursday's other headlines: SpaceX's second launch of their Falcon Heavy rocket and NASA's report that astronaut Scott Kelly experienced biological changes during his year-long orbit in space.

Apr 11 05:36

Photos: Fire burns Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

On April 15, 2019 flames erupted at the landmark cathedral, the most-visited landmark in the French capital

Apr 16 46 photos

Star Wars Celebration 2019

The four-day convention for fans of the Star Wars saga, held in Chicago, included cosplayers, panels with the filmmakers, and the debut of the trailer for Episode IX of the series

Apr 13 39 photos

Awkward Easter Bunny photos

Children love the Easter Bunny – until they meet him

Apr 12 35 photos

The folk art of Bill Traylor

Born into slavery, the self-taught painter who began his artistic life in his 80s is the focus of a retrospective at the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Apr 7 24 photos

America's surprising food recalls

What's in your fridge? Just maybe salmonella, E. coli – and a dead bat?

Apr 5 38 photos

Popular

A new twist on the button-down

Bryan Davis, founder of Teddy Stratford, designs shirts that zip instead of button. In an effort to get rid of the "pec gap," Bryan reverse-engineered how to create the traditional button-down. In this small business spotlight, Bryan explains what inspired him to create the shirt and how selling online helps his brand.

Apr 17 02:15

Sneak peek: What Happened in Apartment 4C?

When a man goes missing, his friends turn to social media to track his final hours. What they learn is horrific. "48 Hours" correspondent Erin Moriarty investigates Saturday, April 20 at 9/8c on CBS.

20H ago 03:45

Preview: K-pop sensation BTS

"Sunday Morning" correspondent Seth Doane goes behind the scenes with one of the music world's biggest hitmakers, the Korean boy band BTS. In this preview of a report to air on CBS April 21, Kim Nam-joon, a.k.a. RM, talks about the band presenting at this year's Grammys, and their promise to return.

updated 12M ago 00:41

Legal expert on Trump's "no collusion" claim

CBSN legal contributor Keir Dougall explains why special counsel Robert Mueller's report "does not exonerate" President Trump, even though the investigation did not find that he committed any crime.

updated 23M ago 02:52

(Un)Welcome: Sweden's rise of the right

In this installment of CBSN Originals’ ongoing examination at how migration is reshaping the world, Adam Yamaguchi travels to Sweden to examine how a record influx of migrants has coincided with the recently welcoming and politically progressive nation's swift shift to the right.

Apr 15 23:06