Trump asked aides to help find Clinton's 'missing' emails

WASHINGTON — President Trump personally directed his advisers and contacts to help find former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s “missing” 30,000 emails, according to special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

In July 2016, Trump publicly called for Russian hackers to find the emails during a campaign speech, saying, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

Trump, in later written responses to the special counsel’s questions, said he made those comments “in jest and sarcastically.” However, according to interviews the special counsel conducted with his associates, then-candidate Trump was taking the prospect of discovering the emails seriously.

“Throughout 2016, the Trump Campaign expressed interest in Hillary Clinton's private email server and whether approximately 30,000 emails from that server had in fact been permanently destroyed, as reported by the media,” wrote the Office of Special Counsel in its report, released Thursday.

The report states that “Trump asked individuals affiliated with his Campaign to find the deleted Clinton emails.” While the investigators did not find coordination between Russians and Trump officials in finding the emails, or any evidence of success in uncovering them, the report concludes that some of those efforts “were pursued to some degree.”

According to Mueller’s report, Trump privately asked members of his campaign, including Michael Flynn, who would go on to become the president’s first national security adviser, to find the emails. The report references Flynn’s recollections of interactions with then-candidate Trump. Additionally, former campaign adviser Rick Gates recalled Trump being frustrated that the missing emails had not “been found.”

21 PHOTOS
William Barr announces Mueller report release
See Gallery
William Barr announces Mueller report release
Attorney General William Barr speaks alongside Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, right, and acting Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Edward O'Callaghan, left, about the release of a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report during a news conference, Thursday, April 18, 2019, at the Department of Justice in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Special counsel Robert Mueller's report, with redactions, as released on Thursday, April 18, 2019, is photographed in Washington. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)
Four pages of special counsel Robert Mueller report on the witness table in the House Intelligence Committee hearing room on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Thursday, April 18, 2019.. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Special counsel Robert Mueller's redacted report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election as released on Thursday, April 18, 2019, is photographed in Washington. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)
Attorney General William Barr speaks alongside Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, right, and acting Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Edward O’Callaghan, left, about the release of a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report during a news conference, Thursday, April 18, 2019, at the Department of Justice in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Attorney General William Barr speaks alongside Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, right, about the release of a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report during a news conference, Thursday, April 18, 2019, at the Department of Justice in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
The four page letter from Attorney General William Barr regarding special counsel Robert Mueller's redacted report is photographed Thursday, April 18, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's redacted report that includes written answers from President Donald Trump as released on Thursday, April 18, 2019, is photographed in Washington. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's redacted report that includes written answers from President Donald Trump as released on Thursday, April 18, 2019, is photographed in Washington. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)
Photojournalists photograph four pages of report by special counsel Robert Mueller on the witness table in the House Intelligence Committee hearing room on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Thursday, April 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
UNSPECIFIED - In this screenshot taken from the U.S. Department of Justice website, a page from the Mueller Report is seen on April 18, 2019. (Photo by Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - In this screenshot taken from the U.S. Department of Justice website, a redacted page from the Mueller Report is seen on April 18, 2019. (Photo by Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 18: The gavel of chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., is seen as media films a few pages of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election which was printed out by staff in the House Judiciary Committee's hearing room on Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 18: Attorney General William Barr appears on a television in the Capitol subway to Rayburn building while conducting a news conference at the Justice Department on special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election on Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 18: TV crews work outside of the Senate Judiciary Committee's office on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on April 18, 2019. Today the Department of Justice released special counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted report on Russian election interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 18: TV crews work outside of the Senate Judiciary Committee's office on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on April 18, 2019. Today the Department of Justice released special counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted report on Russian election interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
A photo illustration dated April 18, 2019 in Washington, DC shows an editor looking at a photograph of US Attorney General William Barr (L) speaking about the release of the redacted version of the Mueller report, juxtaposed with US President Donald Trump's latest tweet (R) 'Game Over,' using a 'Game of Thrones' style montage that pictures him standing in dramatic fog. - Trump, backed by his attorney general, declared himself fully vindicated Thursday in the investigation into Russian election meddling and alleged collusion with his campaign -- even before the American people and lawmakers see the full probe report. (Photo by Eva HAMBACH / AFP) (Photo credit should read EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images)
William Barr, U.S. attorney general, center, speaks as Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general, right, and Ed O'Callaghan, principal deputy assistant Attorney General, listen during a news conference at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, April 18, 2019. Barr is set to release a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's final report today, and the document could leave everyone unsatisfied, President Donald Trump, lawmakers and the public. Photographer: Erik Lesser/Pool via Bloomberg
William Barr, U.S. attorney general, left, speaks as Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general, listens during a news conference at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, April 18, 2019. Barr is set to release a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's final report today, and the document could leave everyone unsatisfied, President Donald Trump, lawmakers and the public. Photographer: Erik Lesser/Pool via Bloomberg
US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (R) listens while Attorney General William Barr speaks during a press conference about the release of the Mueller Report at the Department of Justice April 18, 2019, in Washington, DC. - US Attorney General Bill Barr said Thursday that the White House fully cooperated with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Russian election meddling and that President Donald Trump took no action to thwart the probe. 'There is substantial evidence to show that the president was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks,' Barr said ahead of the release of the Mueller report. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (R) listens while Attorney General William Barr speaks during a press conference about the release of the Mueller Report at the Department of Justice April 18, 2019, in Washington, DC. - US Attorney General Bill Barr said Thursday that the White House fully cooperated with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Russian election meddling and that President Donald Trump took no action to thwart the probe. 'There is substantial evidence to show that the president was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks,' Barr said ahead of the release of the Mueller report. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Flynn tasked multiple people with carrying out Trump’s wishes, including Barbara Ledeen, wife of former government-security consultant and prominent neoconservative Michael Ledeen, as well as investment adviser and Republican activist Peter Smith. Barbara Ledeen, however, was already on the hunt as early as 2015, according to Mueller’s report. She even planned to go to foreign intelligence services to investigate whether “the Chinese, Russian, and Iranian intelligence services” had gotten hold of the sensitive emails, which, she noted, if true, would “be catastrophic to the Clinton campaign.”

Smith took on the challenge, creating his own company and raising “tens of thousands of dollars,” according to the report, alleging to associates that he was in contact with Russian hackers who “had access to the emails.” Those efforts were routinely shared with candidate Trump’s fledgling foreign-policy advisory team, including Sam Clovis, a former Air Force officer and politician. According to Mueller’s report, other prominent Trump-connected officials, including Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, also assisted in the effort to track down the emails.

By September 2016, Barbara Ledeen purported to have found potential evidence of the deleted emails on the “dark web.” Another Trump associate, Erik Prince, the founder of private military-security contractor Blackwater, hired a technical adviser to verify the authenticity of the emails. The adviser claimed they were “not authentic,” according to the report.

Smith’s efforts were uncovered by the Wall Street Journal at the time. In May 2017, days after communicating with a Journal reporter, Smith was found dead in his hotel room. Smith, who was reportedly terminally ill at the time, is believed to have committed suicide.

While the Mueller report does not mention other efforts made by Trump associates to find the emails on the “dark web,” another Trump foreign-policy adviser, former Pentagon inspector general Joseph Schmitz, spent considerable time seeking the emails as well — going as far as reporting his findings to the intelligence community inspector general, the FBI and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, according to CNN.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.