Russia meddling documents released

Source:Reuters Published: 2019/11/3 21:48:40

RNC ‘knew more’ about DNC email hack than previously thought

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ends a vote by the US House of Representatives on a resolution formalizing the impeachment inquiry into US President Donald Trump Thursday in Washington, DC. Congress formally opened a new, public phase of its presidential investigation Thursday as US lawmakers voted for the first time to advance the impeachment process against Trump (See story on Page 2). Photo: AFP


US President Donald Trump clamored for the speedy release of emails hacked from Democrats during the 2016 election campaign, and a top Trump aide promoted the idea that Ukraine, rather than Russia, was behind the cyber attack, documents from special counsel Robert Mueller's probe showed on Saturday.

The Justice Department released 500 pages of interview summaries, emails and other documents related to Mueller's report detailing Russian meddling in the 2016 US election. They were released after a court battle with BuzzFeed News and CNN.

The documents, some of which were posted on Saturday by the online news outlets, include summaries of FBI ­interviews with Trump's deputy ­campaign chair Rick Gates, his campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former campaign lawyer Michael Cohen and Steve Bannon, the former presidential adviser.

Gates told investigators on April 10, 2018 that Manafort during the 2016 campaign believed a hack of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails was "likely" carried out by Ukrainians, not Russians, the documents showed. A lawyer for Gates did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump's allies later promoted that theory to undermine Mueller's conclusions about Russian interference, but it has been discredited.

The House of Representatives current impeachment probe of the president is looking at whether Trump improperly pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate his political rival, former vice president Joe Biden, in a July phone call.

In that call, Trump pressed the Ukrainian president to investigate possible Ukraine involvement in the 2016 election email hacking.

The Gates interview notes also suggested that the Republican National Committee (RNC) has more knowledge than previously disclosed about the hacked DNC emails.

Gates told investigators the RNC had "nonpublic information" about the timing of the release of the emails on website WikiLeaks but did not identify who at the RNC knew this information. The RNC has not commented on the documents' release.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was charged with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion by the US government in April.

He and the website he founded "have effectively acted as an arm of the Russian intelligence services for years," US ­Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, a Republican, said then.

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