NewsApril 18, 2019

Why did President Trump think Robert Mueller had a conflict of interest? One reason involved golf

The Trump International Golf Links Course Opens
Ian MacNicol(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The United States Department of Justice released the 448-page Mueller Report on Thursday morning. As the public begins to digest the non-redacted information from the investigation, a golf-related detail plays a part in the drama.

Since the investigation's launch, President Donald Trump has claimed that special counsel Robert Mueller had a conflict of interest. According to Trump, Mueller was compromised because Mueller once belonged to a Trump golf club.

From the report:

In the days following the Special Counsel's appoint, the President repeatedly told advisors, including Priebus, Bannon, and McGahn, that Special Counsel Mueller had conflicts of interest. The President cited as conflicts that Mueller had interviewed for the FBI Director position shortly before being appointed as Special Counsel, that he had worked for a law firm that represented people affiliated with the Presidents, and that Mueller had disputed certain fees relating to his membership in a Trump golf course in Northern Virginia.

In October 2011, Mueller resigned his family's membership from Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, in a letter that noted that "we live in the District and find that we are unable to make full use of the Club" and that inquired "whether we would be entitled to a refund of a portion of our initial membership fee," which was paid in 1994.

The Muellers would write several letters asking for a refund, one to Trump himself, but the refund never came. However, when Trump raised the refund issue with advisor Steve Bannon:

Bannon told the President that the golf course dispute did not rise to the level of a conflict and claiming one was "ridiculous and petty."

President Trump has an ownership stake in 17 golf properties around the globe, 12 of which are located in the United States. The Mueller Report can be read on the Department of Justice's website.

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