On Tuesday, The Guardian broke the story of the key claim of a new book by Michael Wolff: Special Counsel Robert Mueller drew up a three-count indictment against Donald Trump for obstruction of justice — one of the documents the outlet says they’ve obtained and reviewed.
“The stunning revelation is contained in Siege: Trump Under Fire, which will be published a week from now, on 4 June. It is the sequel to Fire and Fury, Wolff’s bestseller on the first year of the Trump presidency which was published in 2018,” the left-leaning outlet reports. “The Guardian obtained a copy of Siege and viewed the documents concerned.”
The Guardian notes that Wolff specifies that the book’s findings on the Mueller investigation are “based on internal documents given to me by sources close to the Office of the Special Counsel.”
But when the Guardian contacted Mueller’s team about the alleged indictment draft, they received some disappointing news for those hoping Wolff’s latest bombshell claim will actually be legitimate.
“The documents that you’ve described do not exist,” Mueller spokesman Peter Carr told the outlet.
Siege is Wolff’s second book on the Trump administration, and as the Guardian notes, Mueller’s flat denial of the existence of the documents on which the book is based “will only add to controversy and debate around the launch of Wolff’s eagerly awaited new book.”
The Guardian also notes that Wolff found that the “paramount issue” of the special counsel’s investigation quickly became whether or not Trump would allow it to continue:
Of Mueller’s thinking, Wolff writes that as a former FBI director, he “had not risen to the highest levels of the federal government by misconstruing the limits of bureaucratic power”, and had therefore continually weighed the odds with his staff about whether the president would fire them. Thus, Wolff writes, “the very existence of the special counsel’s investigation had in a sense become the paramount issue of the investigation itself”.
Wolff’s credibility and journalistic practices came under heavy fire after the release of his first Trump-themed book, Fire and Fury. The Guardian describes the book as having contained many assertions “confirmed” by later works, like Bob Woodward’s Fear: Trump in the White House, and notes that former Trump adviser Steve Bannon was booted from the administration due to his alleged role as a major source for Wolff’s book.
As The Daily Wire reported at the time, Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs published a report in early 2018 on how Wolff was able to worm his way into the White House to get information for his first book:
In what reads like an instruction manual in shameless, muckraking, tabloid “journalism,” Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs describes in detail how “Fire and Fury” author Michael Wolff managed to manipulate his way into the White House so he could write his partly debunked and thoroughly sketchy hit piece on the White House.
Citing “interviews with multiple current and former Trump aides and ad visers,” Jacobs provides an account of Wolff’s “embarrassing” exploitation of the “inexperienced” Trump White House.
First among Wolff’s various deceptive strategies was lying to Team Trump about the way he planned to frame the book, including presenting them with a fake title: “The Great Transition: The First 100 Days of the Trump Administration,” which he invented to make it appear as if he was going to approach the administration from a sympathetic angle.
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that “close to 95%” of the interactions between Wolff and the staff came at Bannon’s request, though Jacobs found that some other key aides, including Kellyanne Conway, invited Wolff in at times. Jacobs reported that one source said the author managed to get into the White House about 17 times.