Trump asks why Mueller hasn't interviewed 'hundreds' of campaign staffers without Russian contacts

Dylan Stableford

If you were running an investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives seeking to influence the 2016 presidential election, who would you interview: Trump campaign officials who you know met with Russians offering information on Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, and others who had documented contact with Kremlin officials — or the ones who didn’t?

Special counsel Robert Mueller, understandably, has focused his investigation on Trump associates who had known contacts with Russia, such as former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who was scheduled to begin a 14-day sentence Monday for lying to the FBI. But President Trump, who has frequently urged Mueller to speed up his investigation, also wants him to interview “hundreds” of campaign associates who had no contact with Russia.

Donald Trump, Robert Mueller (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: AP)
Donald Trump, Robert Mueller (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: AP)

He didn’t say what he thought Mueller should ask them, or what information they could provide about a subject they know nothing about.

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Mueller’s team has interviewed numerous Trump campaign officials and advisers, including Donald Trump Jr., senior adviser Jared Kushner, former communications director Hope Hicks and others.

Trump has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that Mueller, a registered Republican, is conflicted in his role as special counsel, deriding the probe as a “witch hunt” and insisting there was “no collusion” between his campaign and Russia, and no obstruction of justice.

Earlier this year, Mueller referred several cases of U.S. lobbyists who may have failed to register their work supporting the Ukrainian government to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. The cases involved Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta; former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig and former Minnesota Republican Rep. Vin Weber. But none of them, to this point, have been charged.

Related Video: How Mueller’s probe has shaped Trump’s presidency

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In August, Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to tax evasion and bank fraud after Mueller referred his case to federal prosecutors in New York. Cohen also admitted in federal court to making illegal campaign contributions “at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” directly implicating Trump in efforts to suppress, on the eve of the 2016 election, the stories of two women who alleged they had affairs with Trump in 2006 and 2007.

Since being appointed special counsel in March 2017, Mueller’s Russia probe has resulted in the indictments or guilty pleas of more than 30 people, including Papadopoulos, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, ex-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Manafort deputy Rick Gates.

Trump, who has refused to be interviewed by Mueller’s prosecutors, submitted answers to questions from the special counsel last week. Mueller is expected to eventually issue a report to the acting attorney general, Mark Whitaker, who could then, in turn, pass along the findings to Congress.

Whitaker, though, has been critical of the probe. And Democratic lawmakers, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., have been trying to pass legislation to protect Mueller.

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday, Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor and frequent defender of Trump, said Sunday that the forthcoming report will be politically “devastating to the president.”

“I know that the president’s team is already working on a response to the report,” Dershowitz added.

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