President Donald Trump claimed special counsel Robert Mueller did not interview the people closest to him and his 2016 presidential campaign in another of his ongoing attacks against the former FBI director’s report.
Facts first: A wide-range of top Trump 2016 campaign officials provided testimony to the special counsel team, including successive heads of the campaign itself, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Hope Hicks, a former top aide who was said to be like family to Trump. The President himself also submitted written questions to answers from Mueller’s team and resisted further requests to testify.
On Monday, Trump tweeted, “Isn’t it amazing that the people who were closest to me, by far, and knew the Campaign better than anyone, were never even called to testify before Mueller. The reason is that the 18 Angry Democrats knew they would all say ‘NO COLLUSION’ and only very good things!”
The Justice Department released a redacted version of Mueller’s report last week following the conclusion of the investigation. It included an extensive look at the Trump 2016 effort and any potential coordination between the campaign or Trump’s associates and Russia to interfere in the election.
The report did not establish “collusion” between Trump’s associates or campaign and Russia to interfere in the 2016 election. Mueller wrote that members of the campaign knew they would benefit from illegal Russian actions to influence the election, and they did not take criminal steps to help Russia interfere in the campaign.
Mueller’s investigators spoke with top Trump 2016 campaign officials in reaching this conclusion, despite Trump’s tweet to the contrary.
The report cited testimony from Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s first campaign manager who Trump fired in June 2016. Lewandowski has continued to appear at the White House since Trump took office and is an aggressive cheerleader of the President on television, including CNN where he was a contributor for a time. Mueller made a point in the report to note Lewandowski’s close ties to Trump.
“Senior White House advisors described Lewandowski as a ‘devotee’ of the President and said the relationship between the President and Lewandowski was ‘close,’” the report said.
Mueller also cited testimony from Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Manafort’s deputy, Rick Gates, in the report. Manafort was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison as a result of the Mueller investigation and Gates became a cooperating witness, including testifying against Manafort.
And Steve Bannon, who took over as campaign CEO around the time Manafort resigned in August 2016, was interviewed by the special counsel multiple times, according to the report. (That being said, Kellyanne Conway, who was campaign manager during the final months of the campaign, did not speak to the special counsel.)
As stated above, the many other interview subjects relevant to the campaign also included Kushner and Hicks, both top members of the campaign who were close to Trump and took on prominent White House roles. Hicks departed last year and has since become an executive for Fox.
Additionally, the report includes written testimony from Trump, although Mueller notes in the report that the investigators found the written answers to be “inadequate.”