Things are looking very bad for Donald Trump. He finally realized that Special Counsel Robert Mueller III had far more evidence against him than he ever imagined. The worst of it came from the transition period between the election and his inauguration.
The special counsel has been investigating Russia meddling in the 2016 presidential election. As part of that process, the team members have also been investigating any possible links into collusion between Trump’s people and the Kremlin during the campaign and after.
As it turns out, Mueller has tens of thousands of sensitive emails from a dozen different email accounts. One account alone had 7,000 emails. The way the president discovered that the special counsel had them was that his prosecutors based their questions for the witnesses upon them. Mueller also used the emails to find leads to further his investigation.
A transition source told Axios:
‘Mueller is using the emails to confirm things, and get new leads.’
The emails included ones from the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner and other members of the transition team. These involved the transition group’s political leaders and the foreign policy team, a source told Axios.
Transition emails included private exchanges about possible appointments, possible vulnerabilities of the people Trump wanted to appoint, policy plans from a variety of issues, strategies for statements to the press, and even gossip.
How did Mueller get the emails? He requested them from the General Services Administration (GSA). This is the government agency that provided email accounts for the transition team. They were all addresses that ended with ptt.gov, which stood for Presidential Transition Team.
The sources expressed surprise over the emails because they have not only been talking to the Mueller team, but they have been cooperating fully:
‘They ask us to waive NDAs [nondisclosure agreements] and things like that. We have never said “no” to anything.’
Trump’s transition people anticipated they would need to turn over their emails to Mueller, so they sorted them and only held back the ones they considered privileged, they said. The sources also said that was a wasted effort because Mueller already had every email. In early October, Mueller charged the president’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and one of the chairman’s business associates with a number of crimes, including money laundering and tax evasion. In addition, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, George Papadopoulos, pled guilty to lying to FBI agents regarding contacts with Russians.
Shortly after, Trump’s original national security adviser, Michael Flynn also pled guilty to lying to FBI agents about the multiple times he contacted the Russian ambassador to the United States during the transition period. Flynn agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s team.
Given how tight-lipped the special counsel has been, no one knows what Flynn got in exchange for his cooperation with Mueller. Pundits have speculated that he talked in return for a lighter sentence or none for his son, Michael G. Flynn. The younger Flynn worked for his father and accompanied him on his trip to Russia. The elder Flynn sat at a table with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
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