Hope Hicks may be departing the White House, but she hasn’t left Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s attention. Neither has Steve Bannon. Or Corey Lenandowski. Or Carter Page. Or Roger Stone. Or several others.
NBC News reports that Mueller has subpoened for every text, email or other documents related to these members of the Donald Trump campaign going back to Nov. 1, 2015. The interest here is supposedly on when Trump’s team knew about Russian thefts of emails from the DNC and others. That makes the date in late fall of 2015 particularly interesting.
November 2015 is when the FBI first contacted the DNC to say that a computer there was apparently transmitting information to Russia—a message that apparently only went as far as some IT technicians and didn’t reach DNC officials. So at that point, the top brass at the DNC wasn’t aware anything had been stolen. In fact, it would be deep into 2016 before the DNC hired a cyber-security firm that determined information had actually been taken.
It would also be March of 2016 before Trump adviser George Papadopoulos was first informed that the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.” That information was almost immediately passed back to the Trump campaign, and it’s already known that multiple emails passed this information around among the top staff of the campaign.
However, any knowledge about the emails that came from before that date—especially anything in November or December of 2015—would necessitate a different source. It would mean that someone else on the campaign had direct contact with Russia concerning their theft while it was still underway. There is already suspicion that the Trump campaign knew that Russia intended to distribute documents through Wikileaks as a way to obscure their source. But if Trump’s team was actually in charge of Russia as early as November of 2015, it suggests that they could even had had a hand in telling Russia what documents to look for in order to do the most damage to Clinton.
Axios has the names of the ten people on Mueller’s hand-it-over list.
Correction: NBC has revised their article to indicate that this subpoena went only to one unnamed “witness” requesting information in connection with the names on the list. It’s unclear if this was sent out more widely or was sent directly to those members of the campaign.
Mueller is after everything sent, received, or handled by …
Donald J. Trump
Trump himself notoriously “doesn’t do” email, but it’s long been assumed that Hicks acted as the gateway to Trump, sending and receiving emails that were ultimately discussed with the candidate. Another interesting name on the list is Keith Schiller, who has often served as Trump’s behind-the-scenes messenger—as when Trump had Schiller drop Comey’s dismissal letter on the FBI director’s desk while Comey was out of town.
And the list includes Roger Stone. Stone was incredibly … prescient about the information that showed up on Wikileaks.
Private Twitter messages obtained by The Atlantic show that Stone and WikiLeaks, a radical-transparency group, communicated directly on October 13, 2016—and that WikiLeaks sought to keep its channel to Stone open after Trump won the election. The existence of the secret correspondence marks yet another strange twist in the White House’s rapidly swelling Russia scandal.
But that date is long after Stone apparently “predicted” such Wikileaks events as the release of emails by John Podesta. Stone, the original dirty trickster, longtime partner with Paul Manafort in working for some of the most notoriously evil men on the planet, and equally longtime pal of Donald Trump, seems like an excellent candidate to have simply been in on the Russian hack from the beginning. Stone carried out conversations before the election not just with Wikileaks, but with the hacking group hiding behind the Guccifer 2.0 label. What other conversations he had, or when they started, isn’t clear. What is clear is that Stone was apparently in careful contact with both Trump and the Russians throughout the campaign, and was aware that some of that communications could be … iffy.
But the dates, the names on the list, and the nature of Mueller’s inquiry suggests that there was someone on the Trump campaign who had knowledge of the Russian thefts well before George Papadopoulos, and that this information may have been shared with other members of the campaign staff, as well as Trump. Which makes it worth remembering that Papadopoulos isn’t the only member of the former campaign who is providing information to Mueller’s investigation.
Notably not on this list is Donald Trump Jr. Which could suggest that this portion of the investigation is separate from looking into the offer of material that came at the Trump Tower—and possibly at events that happened considerably earlier.