On Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released a less redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference. The new details confirm everything the president has tried to deny: Yes, the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. And yes, President Donald Trump obstructed justice to prevent investigators or the public from finding out.
Kremlin-linked operatives made consistent and sustained efforts to bring Trump campaign officials and/or Trump to Russia or to meetings with Kremlin officials. The Mueller report lists several instances of people suggesting such a trip during the campaign or doing so themselves.
Steve Bannon was involved in or knew of multiple contacts between the Trump team and Russia, including during both the campaign and transition. During the administration, Bannon participated in Trump’s efforts to cover up collusion and undermine the Russia investigation, including by spreading conspiracy theories obscuring the Kremlin’s role in the attack on the 2016 election. Since leaving the White House, Bannon has become involved with several right-wing politicians and movements that have also been accused of working with Russia and Kremlin-linked actors in Europe.
Memo: Recommendations to Address Trump’s Obstruction of the Judiciary Committee’s Inquiry into Impeachment
Now that the House Judiciary Committee is actively considering articles of impeachment against the president, it faces a challenge of how to conduct that inquiry in the face of continued obstruction by the White House. The Committee is rightly going to court to obtain documents and compel critical witnesses to testify, but that process will take time to play out. However, as the Chairman himself recently noted, the Committee does not need to wait to start hearings and call witnesses. The Mueller report provides a long list of potential witnesses that cannot cite executive privilege and are physically located in the United States. These witnesses can, and should, be called before the committee without delay.
Trump foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos learned in April 2016 that Russia had stolen Clinton-related emails and that they planned to release them anonymously to help Trump. Papadopoulos has claimed that he did not inform the Trump campaign about this. Yet, Papadopoulos told at least two foreign officials with no connection to the Trump campaign about the hack. He also sent regular updates to campaign staff about contacts with Russian officials. Trump campaign officials all claim they could “not recall” having been informed by Papadopoulos that the Russians had hacked the Clinton campaign.
During the 2016 election and while serving as a Senate Judiciary Committee staffer, Barbara Ledeen was tasked by Michael Flynn, who was tasked by Trump, to try to obtain Hillary Clinton’s personal emails. She coordinated with longtime GOP operatives Peter Smith and Erik Prince. Ledeen’s activities included liaising with intelligence sources and obtaining materials from the “dark web”. Ledeen remains a staffer on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has oversight over aspects of the Mueller investigation.
Russian military-intelligence hackers stole confidential political data from the Democratic National Committee that they did not release through WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks only released emails. It did not release the DNC analytics and campaign plans. Russian intelligence stole data from the DNC as late as September 20, 2016. What did they do with the valuable information they stole but did not release?
Erik Prince, an influential but informal member of Trump’s orbit, met with close Putin ally Kirill Dmitriev twice during the transition period in the Seychelles. These meetings, which were brokered by UAE advisor George Nader, were part of an effort to establish a secret backchannel between the Trump team and Russia. Meeting participants have conflicting accounts of who was involved and who knew. Prince and Nader have indicated Steve Bannon was involved – and there is some evidence in the report to support this – but he has denied this and refused to answer questions about it. Prince has been accused of lying to Congress about these meetings in a criminal referral from the House Intelligence Committee. His attorney claims the referral contains no new evidence.