The president has tried every strategy he can think of to weasel out of being held accountable for his actions as a consequence of the Russia investigation, but he only continues to dig the hole that he’s in deeper and deeper. Neither he nor his associates can truly get away from the force of American law as wielded by Robert Mueller.
Mueller, however, isn’t the only one leading an investigation into the Trump team over the Russia scandal; several Congressional committees — all led by Republicans — are conducting concurrent investigations.
The Republicans who lead these committees have vested interests in protecting the president, seeing as he is a member of their party and thus supports their policy goals. To suggest that they have fully put these interests aside in the course of their investigations would be ludicrous.
CNN is now reporting that these interests have reared their head in an ugly fashion. According to the outlet, Special Counsel Mueller’s office requested the transcript of a private interview that the Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Iowa’s Chuck Grassley, conducted with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
According to CNN, Mueller was blocked from obtaining this transcript — although discussions about the matter between the two parties are reportedly ongoing. The block was reportedly initiated by lawyers for Paul Manafort, who agreed to allow the Senate Judiciary Committee to pass off the documents that their client had handed over but not the interview transcript.
Discussions about the matter reportedly got even more complicated than that. The initial talks about the subject allegedly took place between Manafort’s lawyers and the Special Counsel’s office — and the Special Counsel’s office reportedly told the Senate Judiciary Committee that they had been authorized to obtain a copy of not just the documents Manafort handed over but of the interview transcript as well.
This situation has prompted the Special Counsel, working under the supervision of the Department of Justice, to reportedly push Congress to hold interviews with key witnesses in the Russia scandal in public. In that way, the Special Counsel couldn’t be blocked from accessing the information shared by these witnesses while being interviewed.
The interview in question with Paul Manafort was originally slated to be public, but the Senate Judiciary Committee “struck a deal” with Manafort to have him speak with them privately. The same situation has unfolded with Donald Trump Jr. Both men are being pressed over — among other things — a 2016 meeting that they took with Kremlin-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who Trump Jr. had been promised would be handing off dirt from the Russian government on Hillary Clinton.
So will Congress do what Mueller is pressing for? Only time will tell. CNN reports that a source has revealed that “the Senate intelligence panel is considering holding public hearings this fall with some key witnesses.”
It’s not as though Mueller’s team is shy. In late July, the FBI completed a pre-dawn raid of Manafort’s Alexandria, Virginia home. The Special Counsel’s office would be where potential criminal charges against the president or members of his team would emanate, so it’s not exactly surprising for Manafort to be hesitant to share information with Mueller.
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