In written answers to questions from special counsel Robert Mueller, President Trump said he was in the dark about two matters that have grabbed the attention of the special counsel.
First, Trump said he was not told in advance about a now-infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting that his son Donald Jr. convened with a group that included a Kremlin-connected lawyer.
Second, he claimed political trickster Roger Stone never tipped him off about the WikiLeaks organization’s plan to release thousands of hacked emails belonging to Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
Trump answered both questions “to the best of my recollection.”
These two key points — WikiLeaks and the Trump Tower meeting — are critical to Mueller’s central mission: investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians during the 2016 campaign.
If you’re connecting the dots to collusion, it goes something like this:
- Russians hacked thousands of emails related to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
- Hackers turned over emails to Russian-friendly Julian Assange of WikiLeaks.
- Assange contacted longtime Trump consultant Roger Stone about the emails.
- Stone told Trump before they were publicly released.
That would be collusion, if proven.
That charge would likely prompt both criminal charges and impeachment hearings in the House.
According to many lawyers who have experience in cases such as this, adding the caveat that he has no recollection, as Trump did with these written answers to Mueller, is standard procedure as a way to try to shield a client should their recollections be challenged.
The list of questions Mueller submitted to Trump also included a query about a controversial change to the Republican party’s convention platform in July 2016 regarding the U.S. providing arms to Ukraine.
The platform revision occurred as the Republican National Convention got underway in Cleveland.
On July 18, party insiders took the unusual step of watering down its formal position on whether the U.S. should help protect Ukraine from Russian incursions – a move viewed as a surprising concession to the Russian government at a time of tension in Ukraine.
The platform change took place during the Republican convention organized by then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Sources tell ABC News Trump told Mueller he was not aware of the platform change to the best of his recollection.