Democrats plan to send Trump aides’ transcripts to Mueller
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrats gaining control of the US House of Representatives in January plan to send Special Counsel Robert Mueller the testimony transcripts of some of President Donald Trump’s closest associates so they can be reviewed for evidence and possible falsehoods, said three sources familiar with the matter.
Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr, son-in-law Jared Kushner, former advisers Roger Stone and Corey Lewandowski, personal aide Rhona Graff and former personal aides Hope Hicks and Keith Schiller all testified before the House Intelligence Committee while it was under control of the Republican majority.
The sources said the transcripts of those interviews will be among those sent to Mueller’s team, which is investigating Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election and the purported collusion by Trump’s campaign team.
Last week, Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to lying to two congressional committees about a proposed Trump Organization skyscraper in Moscow, including efforts to push ahead with the project while Trump ran for president. That guilty plea triggered speculation that Democrats would again push to have the testimony of other Trump associates reviewed.
At a House Intelligence Committee meeting in late September, Republicans rejected a proposal by Democrats that the full transcripts of interviews be sent to Mueller and his team. Republicans voted at that meeting to send 53 transcripts to the Director of National Intelligence for declassification and eventual release.
So far, the committee has only made public the transcripts of interviews with three witnesses: former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, private military contractor Erik Prince, and Glenn Simpson, the founder of a research firm, Fusion GPS - which had ties to Hillary Clinton - and hired a former British spy to produce a controversial dossier on alleged links between Trump and Russia.
A spokesman for the committee’s incoming Democratic chairman, Representative Adam Schiff, said sending the transcripts to Mueller would not constitute a recommendation that criminal charges be brought. “We do not foreclose the possibility of making a referral, but we have decided to provide the Special Counsel with the transcripts so that his team can evaluate them for evidence as well as potential perjury,” said the spokesman, Patrick Boland.
In public statements, Schiff has singled out Roger Stone, who was an informal Trump campaign adviser, as someone who may have tried to mislead the committee, as well as Kushner and Donald Jr.
Stone’s lawyer, Grant Smith, said Stone’s testimony to Congress was “entirely accurate.”
Lawyers for Kushner, Trump Jr, Hicks and Graff declined to comment. Lawyers for Lewandowski and Schiller did not respond to requests for comment.
Committee sources said that in his closed-door testimony, Stone denied engaging in communications with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange or with his WikiLeaks website, which in the weeks before the 2016 election published hundreds of emails hacked from Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta.
Stone did have limited communication with both WikiLeaks and Guccifer 2.0, a hacker who made public Democratic Party documents during the summer of 2016. Attorney Grant Smith, who said he was present during his client Stone’s House committee testimony, said the private Twitter messages with WikiLeaks were disclosed to the panel during Stone’s testimony. Stone has vehemently denied that he has ever had insider access to any hacked Democratic Party or Clinton campaign materials, which were released by either website.