Robert Mueller has at this point long concluded his Russia investigation, but the surrounding scandals are far from over. Now, House Democrats have revealed that President Donald Trump himself may have lied to Mueller’s team about his knowledge of his campaign’s contacts with WikiLeaks, which occurred through means like the intermediary Roger Stone. In a court filing as part of their bid for grand jury material from Mueller’s probe, the House Judiciary Committee pointed to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort saying he “recalled” Trump asking to be kept “updated” about WikiLeaks’s drops of emails Russian hackers had stolen from the Democrats.
There’s a redaction of grand jury material in the section of Mueller’s final report with that revelation. The judiciary panel thus concludes:
‘Not only could those materials demonstrate the president’s motives for obstructing the special counsel’s investigation, they also could reveal that Trump was aware of his campaign’s contacts with WikiLeaks… The text redacted… and any underlying evidence to which it may point are critical to the committee’s investigation… Those materials… have direct bearing on whether the president was untruthful, and further obstructed the special counsel’s investigation, when in providing written responses to the special counsel’s questions he denied being aware of any communications between his campaign and WikiLeaks.’
The committee’s investigation is an impeachment inquiry, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) formalized last week. At the present stage, various House committees are collecting evidence against the president to use in potential articles of impeachment. Pelosi, who’d resisted launching an impeachment inquiry for some time despite the support for the move from significant numbers of House Democrats, said in the wake of the change that it was less a “change of mind” and more a feeling that “we could not ignore what the president did” and he “gave us no choice.”
A main spark for that inquiry actually getting going was the revelation that Trump had tried to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on the Bidens that he could use in a potential general election match-up against Joe.
In the same filing in which they argued Trump might have lied to investigators — which was, just to be clear, a key excuse Republicans used to impeach Bill Clinton — House lawyers insisted of Trump’s obstruction:
‘Those events may also be relevant to the House’s investigation of the president’s solicitation of Ukrainian interference in the 2020 election.’
They added that grand jury material could help complete the portrait of Trump allegedly seeking to have Ukraine “prosecute individuals who testified against Manafort,” as POLITICO put it.
The Trump appointee-led Justice Department has argued that the impeachment inquiry underway in the House is not formal enough to hit the required judiciary proceeding mark necessary for otherwise protected grand jury material to be released. It’s an argument they’ve used in the past — the Trump Treasury Department claimed House Democrats had no legitimate legislative purpose in seeking his tax returns, but like in that case, Democrats are continuing to insist that these determinations are not up to the interests under investigation.
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