Watch: The Trump Tower meeting with Russians was collusion
Special Counsel Robert Mueller issued a list of questions to President Trump in connection with his 2016 election campaign.
What knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign, including by Paul Manafort, to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign?
We know that Russia tried to infiltrate the 2016 campaign, and that Mueller indicted 13 Russian individuals in February 2018 with charges of election interference.
The question is: Did the Trump campaign actively reach out to Russia? The wording of Mueller’s latest set of questions is key. If the Trump campaign initiated a conversation with the Russian government for help to secure the 2016 election, it means that Trump would have accepted a gift from a foreign state. That is an impeachable offense.
Watch: The Trump campaign met with a Russian informant
What do we know so far?
We know that George Papadopoulos, an aide to the campaign, repeatedly attempted to reach out Russia in 2016: He tried to set up meetings with Russian nationals to gain information related to the campaign. In October 2017, he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about meeting with someone with Russian ties who offered “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Trump also knew of Papadopoulos’ connections with Russia.
Also in October 2017, Paul Manafort, Trump’s one-time campaign chair, was indicted for charges including conspiracy to launder money and making false statements. Manafort, a central figure of Mueller’s Russia probe, is facing serious criminal charges, and has thus far refused to cooperate.
Read Tom Steyer’s statement on the FBI’s 2018 charges of Manafort
Prosecutors only ask questions that they already know answers to. If Mueller learns that members of the Trump campaign, including Manafort, reached out to Russia, that means that the Trump campaign actively sought foreign intervention in American elections. That is breaking the law.
Read more: 3 key takeaways from new filings in the Manafort case
At times Donald Trump puts the interests of Russia and Vladimir Putin above the U.S. What exactly are Trump’s ties to Russia? Why is he so keen on praising Putin, and so worried about not offending him? Who is our president really serving?