This Week in Conflicts: Redacted Mueller Report Released, Undisclosed Cash Flow from Inaugural Ball and Mueller Explains Why His Family Left Trump’s Golf Club


Screenshot of the Mueller report from the Washington Post’s website. (April 19, 2019)

This week, the report from special counsel Robert Mueller was released with redactions, the Palm Beach Post cannot find financial records for one of President Donald Trump’s inaugural balls, and Mueller explains why his family left the president’s membership club in Virginia.

Then-FBI Director Robert Mueller on July 20, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Redacted Mueller Report Released

The special counsel’s report was released to the public by Attorney General William Barr Thursday.

The 448-page document had redactions throughout relating to grand jury information, personal privacy, harm to ongoing matters and investigative technique.

Many news organizations posted the report online including the Washington Post who added annotations throughout the document to help add context and perspective. CNN suggested words users should search for throughout the report to make reviewing a little easier. Politifact compared Barr’s findings (released March 24) to the information in the actual report.

The big takeaways according to Time magazine:

  • When informed by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the special counsel had been appointed, President Trump said, “this is the end of my presidency. I’m f-cked.”
  • President Trump ordered a White House lawyer to fire Mueller, but the attorney declined.
  • In the president’s written response to Mueller’s questions, he replied more than 30 times that he had “no recollection” or did not “recall” specific information.
  • President Trump said his direct request to Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s emails was a joke, a statement he made in “jest.”

CNN highlighted key takeaways too, including:

  • Mueller was unable to conclude that “no criminal conduct occurred.”
  • Efforts by Trump to obstruct justice failed because others refused to “carry out orders,” the report said.
  • The special counsel’s investigation into possible collusion found that members of the Trump campaign knew they would benefit from Russia’s illegal actions to influence the election, but didn’t take criminal steps to help, the report said.
  • The special counsel believed it had the authority to subpoena President Trump — but decided against doing so because it would delay the investigation, according to the report.
  • The special counsel wrote about how the President’s public comments can be considered as obstruction efforts because of his power.
  • Mueller’s report laid out the case for why Congress is able to investigate and take action against Trump on obstruction of justice.

Inaugural Ball

According to the Palm Beach Post, an inaugural ball for President Trump does not have any financial records detailing the amount of money raised, something that is required by law.

The Asian Pacific American Presidential Inaugural Gala was held the night before President Trump took office. More than 900 people attended the event with guests paying at least $75 per ticket and some sponsors paying even more.

The Palm Beach Post reports that “thousands of dollars flowed from political donors and a questionable casino company to an undisclosed bank account…That includes donations by their biggest listed sponsors. Among them: an embattled Saipan-based casino later raided by the FBI, a Guam-based shipyard and a handful of Pacific Island hotel operators, all of which benefited from a foreign labor bill signed into law by Trump a year later…One man in charge of raising money for the event told The Post that the host, the National Committee of Asian American Republicans, collected between $5,000 and $15,000 each from up to 20 listed sponsors. It also took in hundreds of smaller contributions.”

The law requires those contributions to be reported to the Federal Election Commissions since the organization is a registered political committee. When the Palm Beach Post asked the committee’s executive director about the money raised, he said he knows where the money went, but he didn’t want to tell the news organization.

Robert S. Mueller, III, director of the FBI from 2001 to 2013 (Image Credit: Federal Bureau of Investigation)

Why Mueller Left Trump’s Golf Club

In a footnote on pages 80 and 81 of the redacted report from the special counsel, Mueller explains why his family left President Trump’s club in Sterling, Virginia, CNN reports.

According to CNN, “in October 2011, Mueller wrote a letter to the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, resigning his family’s membership, explaining, ‘we live in the District and find that we are unable to make full use of the Club,’ according to footnote 529 in the redacted report. In the same letter, Mueller asked ‘whether we would be entitled to a refund of a portion of our initial membership fee,’ which the report says was paid in 1994. The club responded about two weeks later saying the resignation would be effective October 31, 2011, and that they would be ‘placed on a waitlist to be refunded on a first resigned / first refunded basis,’ according to the report.”

President Trump had used the fact that Mueller and his family left the private golf club to claim it showed Mueller had a conflict of interest.

CNN reports that President Trump’s advisers said these were not “true conflicts,” according to the report.

More conflicts of interest in the news

About this Project

Sunlight’s “Tracking Trump’s Conflicts of Interest” project provides a free, searchable database detailing President Donald J. Trump’s known business dealings and personal interests that may conflict with his public duties as President of the United States. The project also documents news coverage of these potential conflicts. Read our reporting to stay current on related news, explore our database, and learn more about the project. As we continue to learn about the First Family’s business holdings, the database will be updated. To help with those updates, get involved by contacting us here. You can also contact us if you’re familiar with any of the conflicts we’re tracking.

Lynn Walsh is an Emmy award-winning freelance journalist who has worked in investigative, data and TV journalism at the national level as well as locally in California, Ohio, Texas and Florida. She produces content focused on government accountability, public access to information and freedom of expression issues. She’s also helping to rebuild trust between newsrooms and the public through the Trusting News project.