Newly released portions of Robert S. Mueller III’s report detailing his investigation of President Trump spell out how investigators considered the possibility Trump had lied to them about his conversations in 2016 about WikiLeaks.
At the time Mueller’s report was first issued, the parts related to Stone were redacted because his case had not yet gone to trial.
The report’s newly released sections make clear that Mueller’s team was unable to determine if Stone’s claims of having advance knowledge of WikiLeaks’ plans ahead of the 2016 election were rooted in reality or fantasy.
The report now says in more blunt language what became clear at Stone’s trial — that multiple Trump campaign aides told investigators then-candidate Trump had engaged in conversations during the 2016 race about what information WikiLeaks might release about his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
In written answers the president gave to Mueller, Trump said he did not recall discussing WikiLeaks with Stone. But multiple witnesses told Mueller’s team that he did have such discussions.
“It is possible that, by the time the President submitted his written answers two years after the relevant events had occurred, he no longer had clear recollections of his discussions with Stone or his knowledge of Stone’s asserted communications with WikiLeaks,” unsealed portions of the report say. “But the President’s conduct could also be viewed as reflecting his awareness that Stone could provide evidence that would run counter to the President’s denials and would link the President to Stone’s efforts to reach out to WikiLeaks.”
Stone was convicted of lying to the House of Representatives about his efforts to contact WikiLeaks in 2016. Stone told those lies, prosecutors said, to protect Trump.
At Stone’s trial in Washington, former campaign aide Rick Gates testified that Trump spoke on the phone with Stone about WikiLeaks in July 2016, and Stone had claimed he had inside knowledge about what WikiLeaks would release.
Gates said he was riding in the car with Trump during that phone call, and when it ended, Trump said “more information would be coming.”
Former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon also testified at trial that Stone claimed to have information about WikiLeaks’ plans, and that Stone spoke at times with campaign aides about what he thought WikiLeaks would do.
Mueller ultimately concluded that while the Trump campaign was happy to receive assistance in the form of public releases of Democrats’ hacked emails, and that Russia sought to harm the Clinton campaign by hacking and releasing such emails, they could not show a conspiracy between the two sides.
As he prepares to head to prison, Stone has lobbied for a pardon, and the president strongly hinted earlier this month that he may get one, tweeting that Stone was a “victim of a corrupt and illegal Witch Hunt” and should “sleep well at night.”