Robert Mueller’s questions reflect trail of investigation, but US midterms will be deciding factor
The questions Robert Mueller would like to ask Donald Trump in his investigation into whether the US president was the Muscovite Candidate for the White House reflect the trail that the special counsel’s team have been following –examining links with Russia and whether there have been attempts at obstruction of justice to cover it up.
Mr Mueller has drawn on Mr Trump’s tweets, produced on an industrial scale, to formulate some of these inquiries, a gift that keeps on giving for the investigators as the president fires off boasts and threats on social media which may turn out to be damaging and self-incriminating.
In his first response, inevitably in a tweet, Mr Trump said the leaking of the Mueller questions was “so disgraceful”, and claimed that none of them concerned collusion with Russia. That is incorrect: although the word ‘collusion’ is not in any of the questions, some of them directly address the issue of whether the numerous links between Russia and Mr Trump, his officials and members of his family were collusive.
One question, in particular, points to fresh information being received: “What knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign, including by Paul Manafort, to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign?” Although Mr Manafort, Mr Trump’s former campaign manager, had Russian links, mainly through his campaign management of Viktor Yanukovych, the deposed pro-Moscow Ukrainian president, “outreach” for campaign assistance appears to be new.
The questions looking into alleged collusion range from Mr Trump’s finances, to backchannel connections with the Kremlin regarding the election. Some of them relate to material gathered by Christopher Steele, the former MI6 officer, for his controversial dossier on Mr Trump.
The questions go into what discussions Mr Trump may have had with Michael Cohen, his personal lawyer whose offices were recently raided, about real estate deals in Moscow.
There are also questions about the links of Mr Manafort – who has been arrested and charged – with Russia, and the connections his former National Security Advisor, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, also since arrested and charged, had with Russia.