Transcript Indicates Mueller Is Eying Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo
Rantt Rundown, Day 753 of Trump’s presidency – Today’s top stories:
1. Mueller’s search for collusion still at the “heart” of his probe: Last week, the Special Counsel’s office was pressed by a judge to explain the importance of former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort’s alleged lies. A courtroom transcript from that hearing included revealing comments from Andrew Weissmann, a prosecutor on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team. It indicated that a possible criminal conspiracy is still at the “heart” of their probe and it also it appears to signal the Special Counsel’s office believes sanctions relief on Russia may have been the quid pro quo between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. The New York Times reported:
Comments by one of Mr. Mueller’s lead prosecutors, disclosed in a transcript of a closed-door hearing, suggest that the special counsel continues to pursue at least one theory: that starting while Russia was taking steps to bolster Mr. Trump’s candidacy, people in his orbit were discussing deals to end a dispute over Russia’s incursions into Ukraine and possibly give Moscow relief from economic sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies.
“This goes to the larger view of what we think is going on, and what we think is the motive here,” Mr. Weissmann said. “This goes, I think, very much to the heart of what the special counsel’s office is investigating.”
This is clearly significant because it goes to the very core of whether there was a criminal conspiracy. This is a possible quid pro quo we at Rantt have analyzed on many occasions. As we know, Paul Manafort met with Russian Intelligence operative Konstantin Kilimnik several times, including when Kilimnik was in DC for the inauguration as well as in February 2017 and 2018. Trump Campaign Deputy Chairman Rick Gates also attended one of those meetings. They discussed the Russia-Ukraine peace plan (which would’ve lifted sanctions). We were already aware they had discussed this in August 2016 when Manafort handed campaign polling data to Kilimnik. It’s unclear whether this is related to the Ukraine Peace plan Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen and associate Felix Sater worked on and reportedly delivered to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
This fits within the bigger picture of possible Trump-Russia collusion and includes the Trump Tower Moscow Project, the pro-Russia stances added to the Republican platform, the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, the apparent coordination of Wikileaks releases, and more. If it’s proven there was an agreement to pursue sanctions relief in exchange for help winning the election, that would be the smoking gun.
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