In his written answers to questions from Robert Mueller, President Donald Trump said he was in the dark about two matters that have grabbed the attention of the special counsel.
Trump said he was not told in advance about a now-infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting that his son Donald Jr. convened with a group that included a Kremlin-connected lawyer.
And he claimed political trickster Roger Stone never tipped him off about the WikiLeaks organization’s plan to release thousands of hacked emails belonging to Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
President Trump told Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office that he was not told in advance about a now-infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting that his son Donald Jr. convened with a group that included a Kremlin-connected lawyer
Roger Stone, a former Trump confidant, is under fire for a tweet he sent in 2016, which later appeared to be a signal that he knew WikiLeaks was about to publish emails stolen from John Podesta; Trump also told Mueller that Stone didn’t tip him off about it
CNN reported that the president made clear in his written answers that he was responding to the best of his recollection. The network’s sources didn’t quote his exact words.
The Trump Tower meeting included Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in addition to then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Stone is under fire despite his insistence that he didn’t have advance knowledge of the WikiLeaks email dump, and told CNN recently that he never spoke with Trump about it.
Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya attended a 2016 meeting in Trump Tower that the president’s son Don Jr. convened with the hope of getting dirt on Hillary Clinton; Veselnitskaya’s Kremlin ties were exposed later
‘I never discussed any of this with Donald Trump. It’s one of the questions that Mr. Mueller wants the President to answer – one of the written questions. I’m highly confident that his answer will be that he knew nothing about it. We just never discussed it, he said.
Stone may have discussed it with fellow conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, however.
The Mueller team has obtained a July 25, 2016 email in which Corsi told him that ‘Word is friend in embassy plans 2 more dumps. One shortly after I’m back. 2nd in Oct. Impact planned to be very damaging.’
The ‘friend’ is thought to be a reference to Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who has been living in ecuador’s British embassy for nearly six years in order to avoid extradition.
Corsi told the Associated Press this week that the email he sent to Stone was based on his own leaps of logic not on inside information.
‘It’s all a guess. That email – ‘word is’ – is 100 percent speculation on my part, a package so that Roger’s not going to dismiss it because I’m real sure I’m right,’ he said.
Corsi also said he told Mueller’s investigators he had ‘figured it out’ himself.
Mueller is thought to be near the end of his expansive probe, launched to investigate whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russians to affect the presidential election.
But his team is also reportedly looking at actions the president took after his inauguration, including the firing of then-FBI Director James Comey.
It was Comey’s sacking that led to Mueller’s appointment, which was seen in part as a signal that the Justice Department thought Trump had obstructed justice by freezing Comey out of looking into his campaign operation.
Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, said last week that the president would refuse to answer any questions Mueller might ask about a nobstruction claim, but would answer truthfully about his campaign.
Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani has said Trump would not address questions from Mueller (right) about obstruction of justice, but would engage on campaign-related matters
Trump has repeatedly called the Mueller probe a ‘witch hunt’ and insisted that there was ‘no collusion’ with Moscow during his run for the White House.
He has long insisted he was in the dark about the Trump Tower meeting.
‘I did NOT know of the meeting with my son, Don Jr,’ he tweeted in July.
CNN reported in July that Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, told associates the opposite and was prepared to say so to Mueller.
Cohen’s layer, longtime Bill and Hillary Clinton adviser Lanny Davis, later said he was the unnamed source of that information – and that he had been mistaken.
U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered in the election by undermining Clinton, and preferred to see Trump win.
Mueller has already has brought charges against some former Trump aides, including Manafort and former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn and a low-level foreign policy adviser.
But he has caught a regular stream of flak from the president, who accused him on Wednesday of pressuring key witnesses to lie.
‘While the disgusting Fake News is doing everything within their power not to report it that way, at least 3 major players are intimating that the Angry Mueller Gang of Dems is viciously telling witnesses to lie about facts & they will get relief,’ the president claimed.
Trump’s outburst came after prosecutors claimed in a court filing that Manafort told ‘lies’ to investigators, violating a plea agreement he struck this year. If a judge agrees and finds him in breach of his agreement, he could receive an extended prison sentence or face additional charges.
It also emerged attorneys representing Manafort kept the president’s team briefed on what he told the Mueller team. Giuliani confirmed the conversations had taken place but defended them as a valuable insight into the special counsel inquiry.
He also said the president won’t yet rule out issuing a pardon to Manafort, who worked for his campaign only briefly and was convicted of financial crimes that happened years before.
‘Right now would not be the time,’ Giuliani said of presidential clemency.
‘That doesn’t mean you give away your presidential prerogative to do it at the right time,’ he added, saying that Manafort ‘should get the same consideration as anyone else.’