Special Counsel Robert Mueller has submitted a list of 48 questions to President Donald Trump’s legal team he hopes to have answered in a prospective interview as part of the investigation into possible obstruction of justice and campaign collusion with Russia.
The New York Times obtained the list of questions, which are mostly related to a potential obstruction of justice case against Trump.
Five questions relate to Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser who was forced to resign on Feb. 13, 2017. Eighteen questions focus on James Comey, who Trump fired as FBI director on May 9, 2017. Eight questions center on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and 13 regard possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian government.
Perhaps the most intriguing question regarding possible collusion is about Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman.
“What knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign, including by Paul Manafort, to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign?” one question reads.
“It is not clear whether Mr. Mueller knows something new, but there is no publicly available information linking Mr. Manafort, the former campaign chairman, to such outreach,” The Times noted.
Mueller has indicted Manafort on money laundering and bank fraud charges related to his work for a Ukrainian political party several years before he joined the Trump campaign in April 2016. Rick Gates, a former Manafort business partner and Trump campaign aide, is cooperating with Mueller’s prosecutors as part of a plea deal.
It remains unclear whether Mueller is investigating Manafort’s campaign activities. But some of Manafort’s campaign emails showed he offered to provide campaign briefings to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch close to Vladimir Putin.
Deripaska and Manafort had been in a dispute over a $19 million business deal involving a Ukrainian cable company.
On the Russia front, Mueller also hopes to ask Trump when he first learned of the June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting. Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., accepted the meeting with a Russian delegation after being offered dirt on Hillary Clinton. The meeting’s participants, which included Manafort and Kushner, have claimed the meeting was insignificant and a waste of time.
Mueller also wants to quiz Trump about whether he knew about Russian hacking during the campaign. One of the unproven theories of collusion is members of the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russian government to release emails stolen from the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee.
“During the campaign, what did you know about Russian hacking, use of social media, or other acts aimed at the campaign?” Mueller’s question reads.
Another question on the list deals with Trump’s visit to Moscow for the 2013 Miss Universe pageant. Mueller specifically asks what communication Trump had with Russian government officials and the Agalrovs, an Azerbaijani-Russian family who partnered with Trump on the pageant. Aras and Emin Agalarov also helped arrange the 2016 meeting at Trump Tower.
Regarding Flynn, Mueller wants to know what Trump knew about the retired general’s phone calls with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents about those phone calls, which occurred in December 2016. He was fired on Feb. 13, 2017 — purportedly because he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about the phone calls.
The bulk of Mueller’s questions focus on Comey, and Trump’s conversations with the ousted FBI director. Mueller hopes to ask Trump the purpose for several meetings he had with Comey during the early days of his presidency. Comey wrote memos following those meetings. Trump asked Comey to back off of the investigation of Flynn, the former FBI director claimed in a Feb. 14, 2017 memo.
Mueller also wants to find out Trump’s thought process in deciding to fire Comey.
“When was it made? Why? Who played a role?” Another question on the list states.
Trump’s legal team is reportedly undecided about whether he should sit for an interview with Mueller. John Dowd, who was the top lawyer on the legal squad, reportedly opposed an interview. Mueller’s team has reportedly told Trump’s lawyers he is not a target of the investigation. That would suggest charges are not expected against Trump. But an interview with Mueller could open Trump up to perjury charges if he gives false statements.
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