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Looking into Wisconsin's connections to the Mueller report

Posted at 7:25 PM, Apr 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-18 20:25:25-04

TODAY'S TMJ4 looked through the partially redacted 400+ page Mueller report, and one name jumped out: Wisconsin's Reince Priebus.

Priebus' name is mentioned more than 200 times in the report.

Priebus was President Trump's first chief of staff and a key adviser during the turbulent times surrounding the Russian investigation.

Just days after being on the job, Priebus advised the president on his dinner with then FBI Director James Comey.

"Priebus recalled that before the dinner he told the president something like, 'don't talk about Russia, whatever you do,' and the president promised he would not talk about Russia at the dinner," said Comey.

Comey later said Trump repeatedly brought up his future, asking whether he wanted to stay on as FBI Director. Trump later fired Comey.

Trump also told Priebus he wanted then Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign after recusing himself from the Russian investigation.

"The president told Priebus to say that he 'need[ed] a letter of resignation on [his] desk immediately,' and that Sessions had 'no choice' but 'must immediately resign.'"

Priebus replied that if they fired Sessions, they would never get a new attorney general confirmed and that the Department of Justice and Congress would turn their backs on the President.

We found only one reference about battleground Wisconsin in the partially redacted report. It included a briefing between Paul Manafort, Trump's one-time campaign manager, and a Russian political consultant.

"That briefing encompassed the Campaign's messaging and its internal polling data," and, "included discussion of "battleground" states, which Manafort identified as Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota."

Priebus' roots run deep in Wisconsin.

The UW-Whitewater graduate took his Kenosha roots and political drive all the way to the White House as President Trump's first chief of staff.

"He is an unbelievable leader," Trump said on Inauguration night. "An unbelievable talent and he's my friend and he's been with me from the beginning, so I want to thank Reince Priebus."

Priebus' political career began in Wisconsin. He lead the state's Republican party and was a key player in the red wave in 2010 that helped Scott Walker win the governor's race and Ron Johnson upset long time Democratic U.S Senator Russ Feingold.

After that, he moved to the national stage to chair the Republican National Committee.

Priebus is credited with helping navigate Trump's unpredictable campaign to victory including turning Wisconsin red for the first time in three decades.

But after just six months on the job, Priebus was out as chief of staff.

He returned to the Milwaukee law firm he once worked for, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP as president and chief strategist.