Tuesday, November 19, 2019

House Democrats Investigate Whether Trump Lied To Mueller

A new aspect of the House impeachment inquiry is an investigation into whether President Trump lied in a written, sworn statement prepared for the Mueller investigation earlier this year. The Washington Post reports that the House general counsel revealed the investigation into Trump’s statement during proceedings in which the House is asking for the release of secret grand jury information from the Mueller investigation.

The House request for grand jury information comes in the wake of Trump crony Roger Stone’s conviction last week. Stone’s conviction stemmed from attempting to cover up his contacts with WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign. Stone passed along information from WikiLeaks to the Trump campaign and then lied about these communications to investigators.

House investigators say that testimony and evidence at Stone’s trial cast doubt on President Trump’s claims that he was not aware of the contacts between his and WikiLeaks regarding the release of the stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee.

In one particular instance during Stone’s trial, Rick Gates, a longtime partner of Paul Manafort, who was a former Trump campaign manager, testified that Donald Trump took a phone call from Roger Stone in July 2016. Immediately after hanging up, Trump told those in attendance that “more information would be coming” from Wikileaks. Gates’ testimony contradicts Trump’s written statement, which said, “I do not recall discussing WikiLeaks with” Stone, “nor do I recall Mr. Stone having discussed WikiLeaks with my campaign.”

Gates pled guilty to charges of conspiracy and making false statements as part of a deal with prosecutors. He was the star witness in the trial of both Paul Manafort in addition to testifying against Roger Stone. He is also scheduled to testify against former Obama White House counsel and Manafort associate, Geoffrey Craig, who was also indicted for lying to investigators about Manafort’s work in Ukraine. Gates has not yet been sentenced.

“Did the president lie? Was the president not truthful in his responses to the Mueller investigation?” General Counsel Douglas N. Letter asked rhetorically in the court appearance.

“The House is now trying to determine whether the current president should remain in office,” Letter told the court. “This is something that is unbelievably serious and it’s happening right now, very fast.”

Last month, a federal judge ordered the Department of Justice to turn over grand jury material referenced in redacted portions of the Mueller report to House investigators. In the ruling, Beryl Howell, chief district judge for the DC district court, wrote, “The Department of Justice claims that existing law bars disclosure to the Congress of grand jury information. DOJ is wrong.”

There were hints earlier this year that Mueller suspected that the president’s answers to his team’s questions were not completely honest. The Mueller report called Mr. Trump’s responses “inadequate" and "incomplete or imprecise." The report noted that investigators had considered subpoenaing the president but ultimately decided against it.

President Trump’s statement to Mueller was written, but it was also given under oath. If prosecutors can demonstrate that the president lied under oath to investigators, it would not only be a crime, but there is precedent for impeaching a president for a similar act of perjury. If perjury is added to the Articles of Impeachment against President Trump, it would represent the parties coming full circle in the space of 20 short years.

Originally published on The Resurgent

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