BuzzFeed News's lawsuit to get unredacted Mueller report passages finds that yes, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and Michael Cohen all told Mueller's team that Roger Stone absolutely knew WikiLeaks had the stolen 2016 DNC emails, and that yes, Roger Stone absolutely told Trump that the leaks were coming.
Donald Trump was told in advance that Wikileaks would be releasing documents embarrassing to the Clinton campaign and subsequently informed advisors that he expected more releases would be coming, according to newly unredacted portions of special counsel Robert Mueller's report into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
In July 2016, political consultant Roger Stone told Trump as well as several campaign advisors that he had spoken with Julian Assange and that WikiLeaks would be publishing the documents in a matter of days. Stone told the then-candidate via speakerphone that he "did not know what the content of the materials was," according to the newly unveiled portions of the report, and Trump responded "oh good, alright" upon hearing the news. WikiLeaks published a trove of some 20,000 emails Russians hacked from the Democratic National Committee on July 22 of that year.
Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen told federal investigators that he overheard the phone call between Stone and Trump. Agents were also told by former campaign officials Paul Manafort and Rick Gates that Stone had spoken several times in early June of something “big” coming from WikiLeaks. Assange first mentioned having emails related to Clinton on June 12.
The new revelations are the strongest indication to date that Trump and his closest advisors were aware of outside efforts to hurt Clinton’s electoral chances, and that Stone played a direct role in communicating that situation to the Trump campaign. Trump has publicly denied being aware of any information being relayed between WikiLeaks and his advisors.
Allegations of communications between Stone and Trump to discuss WIkiLeaks first surfaced early last year, when Cohen testified to a congressional committee about the June 2016 conference call. At the time, Stone denied any such involvement. “Mr. Cohen’s statement is not true,” he told BuzzFeed News.
But based on the interviews it conducted with those three men and other officials, Mueller’s report concluded it had "established that the Trump Campaign displayed interest in the WikiLeaks releases, and that former Campaign member Roger Stone was in contact with the Campaign about those releases, claiming advance knowledge of more to come."
The newly unredacted portions of the Mueller report also show that after the initial dump by WikiLeaks, Trump personally asked Manafort to keep in touch with Stone, who in turn told the then-campaign chairman to keep him “apprised of any developments with WikiLeaks.” Investigators were also told by Gates that Trump had multiple phone conversations with Stone during the campaign and that, following one call held en route to LaGuardia airport, “Trump told Gates that more releases of damaging information would be coming.”
In written testimony to Mueller’s team in November 2018, Trump denied being aware of any communications between Stone, Manafort, Gates, or Donald Trump Jr and WikiLeaks or Assange. Yet according to the newly public portions of the Special Counsel’s report, “Trump knew that Manafort and Gates had asked Stone to find out what other damaging information about Clinton WikiLeaks possessed, and that Stone's claimed connection to WikiLeaks was common knowledge within the Campaign."
Considering the contradictory evidence, the special counsel’s office weighed the possibility that Trump “no longer had clear recollections” of what happened two years earlier, but also wondered whether “the President's conduct could also be viewed as reflecting his awareness that Stone could provide evidence that would run counter to the President's denials and would link the President to Stone's efforts to reach out to WikiLeaks." The investigators stopped short of suggesting that the President may have lied or otherwise misled the special counsel, however.
It doesn't really change much, Stone has been convicted and will almost certainly be pardoned by Trump along with Flynn and Manafort, Trump's impeachment failed to garner a conviction, and Joe Biden will leave prosecuting Trump to the state of New York.
Of course after last night, maybe things are quite different in SDNY land.