President Donald Trump has weighed in on the list of questions Special Counsel Robert Mueller reportedly wants to ask him in an interview – claiming there are no questions about collusion with the Russian government.
But there are at least 13 questions that appear to relate to possible collusion.
“So disgraceful that the questions concerning the Russian Witch Hunt were “leaked” to the media. No questions on Collusion. Oh, I see…you have a made up, phony crime, Collusion, that never existed, and an investigation begun with illegally leaked classified information. Nice!” Trump tweeted at 6:47 a.m. Tuesday.
On Monday night, The New York Times obtained and published a list of more than four dozen questions that Mueller wants to ask Trump if the President agrees to sit down for an interview – something Trump and his attorneys have not agreed to do.
Despite Trump’s tweet, several questions on the list appear to allude to possible collusion – coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials – even if collusion is not explicitly mentioned. Here they are:
- When did you become aware of the Trump Tower meeting?
- What involvement did you have in the communication strategy, including the release of Donald Trump Jr.’s emails?
- During a 2013 trip to Russia, what communication and relationships did you have with the Agalarovs and Russian government officials?
- What communication did you have with Michael D. Cohen, Felix Sater and others, including foreign nationals, about Russian real estate developments during the campaign?
- What discussions did you have during the campaign regarding any meeting with Mr. Putin? Did you discuss it with others?
- What discussions did you have during the campaign regarding Russian sanctions?
- What involvement did you have concerning platform changes regarding arming Ukraine?
- During the campaign, what did you know about Russian hacking, use of social media or other acts aimed at the campaign?
- What knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign, including by Paul Manafort, to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign?
- What did you know about communication between Roger Stone, his associates, Julian Assange or WikiLeaks?
- What did you know during the transition about an attempt to establish back-channel communication to Russia, and Jared Kushner’s efforts?
- What do you know about a 2017 meeting in Seychelles involving Erik Prince?
- What do you know about a Ukrainian peace proposal provided to Mr. Cohen in 2017?
Included in this category are questions about what Trump knew about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting where his son Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort met Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya. E-mails released by Donald Trump Jr. show that he was promised compromising information on Hillary Clinton during the meeting, even though he initially touted it as a discussion about adoption policy. Veselnitskaya recently revealed she was an informant to the Kremlin.
Mueller also wants to know about any contact Trump had with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the campaign, and what he knew about the hacking of emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. And he reportedly wants to ask Trump about what he knew about Russia’s campaign to infiltrate the U.S. election via social media. (The Special Counsel’s office indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies in February for committing federal crimes, alleging they tried to sow discord in the U.S political system during national elections, including the 2016 presidential race.)
The other three categories were inquiries about Michael Flynn, the President’s National Security Adviser who resigned after admitting he misled Vice President Mike Pence about contact with the Russian Ambassador during the presidential transition; inquiries about James Comey, the former FBI Director who Trump fired in May, and who testified before Congress that Trump had asked him to end an investigation into Flynn; and inquiries about Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself from the Russia investigation.
Trump issued a second tweet Tuesday morning saying that he could not obstruct justice for a crime he didn’t commit. “It would seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened! Witch Hunt!” he wrote.
But someone who is found guilty of obstructing justice is found guilty of tampering with an investigation. So even if Mueller finds no evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, for instance, he could still potentially allege the President obstructed justice based on actions he may have taken during the investigation. This is what happened to Scooter Libby, who served as Chief of Staff to former Vice President Dick Cheney, who was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in connection to an investigation into the leaked identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame during the Iraq War. Libby was not identified as the leaker, but was convicted based on his actions during the investigation into the leak.
Trump pardoned Libby last month.