A rather stunning, though not that surprising, report by NBC News reveals that special counselor Robert Mueller is asking witnesses what they know concerning whether or not Donald Trump knew that Democratic emails were stolen prior to their public release.
From NBC News:
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is asking witnesses pointed questions about whether Donald Trump was aware that Democratic emails had been stolen before that was publicly known, and whether he was involved in their strategic release, according to multiple people familiar with the probe.
Mueller’s investigators have asked witnesses whether Trump was aware of plans for WikiLeaks to publish the emails. They have also asked about the relationship between GOP operative Roger Stone and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and why Trump took policy positions favorable to Russia.
The line of questioning suggests the special counsel, who is tasked with examining whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election, is looking into possible coordination between WikiLeaks and Trump associates in disseminating the emails, which U.S. intelligence officials say were stolen by Russia.
This is a huge story.
We already know Stone, a longtime friend of Trump, was in contact with Wikileaks. It also seems rather apparent by a tweet he sent out in August — telling Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman that it would “soon” be his “time in the barrel” weeks before Wikileaks began dumping John Podesta’s emails — that he knew something was coming soon.
And I’m pretty sure if Stone knew Wikileaks had Podesta’s emails, Trump did, too.
Then there’s always the now infamous secret meeting Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner had with Russians who were promising them dirt on Clinton. Hope Hicks, who just resigned from Trump’s administration, allegedly promised the emails about that meeting would “never get out.” Did she tell some “white lies” about that to the FBI?
We also can’t forget about Trump aide George Papadopoulos who, just a month before Trump Jr.’s meeting, told the Australian high commissioner to the UK that the Russians had thousands of damaging emails on Clinton.
So just based on those few things we have:
- An aide to Trump bragging in May 2016 about Russians having damaging emails on Clinton.
- A June meeting Trump’s son, then-campaign manager, and son-in-law attended on the pretense that Russians were going to give them dirt on Clinton, which both sides later tried to play off as nothing more than a meeting about “adoption policy” before the email exchange was eventually revealed.
- Within hours of that meeting being confirmed, Donald Trump made an announcement that in the coming days he would have some damaging news about the Clintons.
- A longtime friend of Trump’s was in contact with Wikileaks and seemed to signal weeks before anyone knew Podesta’s emails had been stolen that Clinton’s campaign manager would “be in the barrel soon.”
I’m sorry, but there’s absolutely no way that Trump only first found out that Podesta’s emails had been stolen when they first began being dumped by Wikileaks — shortly after his Access Hollywood tape was made public.
Just based on what I listed here, and that’s not even all the evidence we have indicating Trump’s campaign knew about the emails long before they were released, there’s a clear pattern of people tied to Trump or his campaign — including his son, son-in-law, and then-campaign manager — being informed that Russians had dirt on Clinton they were willing to use to help his campaign and a willingness by Trump’s campaign and people linked to him to obtain that information.
It’s like I said when the Russia meeting story first broke, how was that not collusion?
Whether or not the Russians brought information that Trump’s son and campaign manager found valuable isn’t the point. The fact is Trump Jr. arranged that meeting based on the promise that they were going to be given damaging information on Clinton from the Russian government to help his father’s campaign — and he accepted the meeting, telling them, if true, he “loved it.”
When Trump Jr. was offered damaging information on an American and political opponent from a foreign adversary, he should have contacted the FBI immediately.
But he didn’t.
Instead, he eagerly took the meeting, spent over a year concealing the fact that it had taken place, then proceeded to offer up one ridiculous lie and excuse after another once the public found out about it.
And don’t even try to tell me that all of this was going on without any of it being mentioned to or approved by Donald J. Trump, himself. There’s absolutely no way his son would set up a meeting in Trump Tower with Russians promising him dirt on Clinton without first getting approval to do so from his father. The same father who promised a big announcement on the Clintons within hours of his son agreeing to that very same meeting.
What these questions from Mueller tell me is that he’s obviously seen enough evidence in his mind to warrant concerns that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election. To what extent, that’s yet to be determined. But if he’s asking witnesses questions trying to gauge when Trump might have known about these emails, that tells me he feels that Trump might have not only known what was going on, but was the one possibly approving all of it.
Knowing that there’s a whole lot more we don’t know which Robert Mueller has already found out, I don’t see this investigation looking any better for Trump or his associates any time soon.
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