In the past two-ish years, we've gotten a lot of details about what's going on inside the White House, but rarely have they been as helpful as this most recent report regarding Annie Donaldson's notes. Who is Annie Donaldson, you ask? The White House lawyer is reportedly a key piece in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into potential collusion between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign, thanks to her comprehensive notes and memos about President Donald Trump's behavior in the West Wing.
Donaldson's notes are detailed in a May 3 report from The Washington Post. The notes, which were cited more than 65 times in Mueller's report, detail "a running account of the president’s actions, albeit in sentence fragments and concise descriptions." Donaldson, who was the chief of staff to former White House counsel Don McGahn, reportedly jotted down Trump's anger when FBI Director James Comey confirmed that the agency was investigating links between his campaign. Trump later fired Comey, with Donaldson claiming he was thinking of "this Russia thing" when he chose to do so. It was a decision that appeared to worry Donaldson, as she wrote in a note, dated May 9, 2017 and cited on page 68 of the report, is “this the beginning of the end?”
Donaldson also took notes on Trump's alleged efforts to push Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from the investigation and Trump's alleged attempts to get Mueller removed from his position. Elite Daily previously reached out to the White House for comment on the details alleged in the report, but did not hear back. The Post reports that the notes reflect that McGahn and other staffers were reportedly concerned that Trump could be accused of obstruction of justice, and sought to stop him from carrying out his orders.
On April 19, the day after the redacted report was publicly released, Trump tweeted a cryptic message about notes. "Watch out for people that take so-called “notes,” when the notes never existed until needed," he wrote. The White House did not immediately respond to Elite Daily's request for further comment.
Donaldson has since departed from the White House. While friends told the Post that she was "proud" of her service, they also said she was "somewhat stung by her experience in Washington."
You can check out more of her notes here.
Those notes appear to be the root of Mueller's report, which was released on April 18. The investigation found no evidence of collusion, but did not totally clear Trump of obstruction. Mueller wrote that he considered 10 instances that could have been seen of obstruction, including "the president's reaction to to the continuing Russia investigation," "the president's termination of Comey," "efforts to curtail the special counsel's investigation," and "the appointment of special counsel and efforts to remove him." Elite Daily previously reached out to the White House for comment on the details alleged in the report, but did not hear back.
In a summary shared ahead of the release of the Mueller report, Attorney General William Barr wrote that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is set to resign in coming weeks, "concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense." It's a decision that Barr continues to face backlash over, with many Democrats calling for his resignation.
Meanwhile, the president has taken a victory lap. After Barr shared his summary on March 24, Trump tweeted, "No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!"
Trump has also criticized the investigation since 2017, calling it everything from a "witch hunt" to a "hoax" to "the greatest con-job in the history of American Politics."
So, what's next? Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-New York) indicated in early April that he may subpoena Donaldson as a witness, so only time will tell if and when that happens.