President Donald Trump and other top 2016 Trump campaign officials reportedly had several private conversations about how the campaign could get access to stolen Democratic emails WikiLeaks had possession of in 2016 in an effort to find damaging information on then-presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, according to newly released interview notes from Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation.
The notes, which provide the first publicly available behind-the-scenes look at Mueller’s investigative work outside of court proceedings and the report itself, recount interviews with former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates in which he detailed the Trump campaign’s efforts to obtain damaging information on Hillary Clinton, including emails that the intelligence community later concluded were stolen by Russian hackers.
“Gates recalled a time on the campaign aircraft when candidate Trump said, ‘get the emails.’ [Michael] Flynn said he could use his intelligence sources to obtain the emails,” investigators wrote in a summary of Gates’s April 2018 interview with Mueller’s team.
Flynn, who served as a foreign policy adviser for the Trump campaign before he became Trump’s first national security adviser, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in December 2017 and faces up to five years in prison on the current charge.
“Flynn had the most Russia contacts of anyone on the campaign and was in the best position to ask for the emails if they were out there,” the investigators added.
Gates also described to Mueller investigators last year how several close advisers to Trump and Trump’s family members discussed methods of obtaining the stolen documents and pushed the effort.
“Donald Trump Jr. would ask where the emails were in family meetings. Michael Flynn, [Jared] Kushner, [Paul] Manafort, [Redacted] [Corey] Lewandowski, Jeff Sessions, and Sam Clovis expressed interest in obtaining the emails as well. Gates said the priority focuses of the Trump campaign opposition research team were Clinton’s emails and contributions to the Clinton Foundation. Flynn, [Redacted] [Jeff] Sessions, Kushner, and [Donald] Trump Jr. were all focused on opposition topics,” Gates told investigators, according to the summary.
The Hill reports:
Mueller had previously written in his final conclusions that Trump’s campaign repeatedly showed interest in the hacked emails that Wikileaks had, but several details of the report were redacted.
Trump infamously publicly requested that Russia provide the hacked documents, sparking criticism that he was inviting foreign election meddling.
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said in July 2016, referring to
Clinton’s deleted messages. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
A judge ordered the Justice Department to release new tranches of the Mueller investigative notes monthly to CNN and Buzzfeed News, which sued for them.
CNN reportedly obtained 274 pages of Mueller team interview notes, emails and documents related to Gates’s cooperation, among other documents.