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.

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