Within a day of the release of the Mueller report last month, President Trump sought to have former White House counsel Don McGahn declare he didn’t consider the president’s 2017 directive that he seek Robert Mueller’s dismissal to be obstruction of justice, but Mr. McGahn rebuffed the request, according to people familiar with the matter…

Privately, Mr. Trump asked White House special counsel Emmet Flood to inquire whether Mr. McGahn would release a statement asserting that he didn’t believe the president’s request—and Mr. Trump’s subsequent efforts to have Mr. McGahn deny news reports about that request—amounted to obstruction, the people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Flood didn’t respond to a request for comment.

William Burck, a lawyer for Mr. McGahn, said in a statement of the request: “We did not perceive it as any kind of threat or something sinister. It was a request, professionally and cordially made.”

Mr. McGahn declined because he didn’t want to weigh in on the totality of evidence in the report beyond his own testimony, and didn’t want to comment on his own testimony in isolation, the people said.