New Witness in Mueller Investigation?
Ryan: With us, to discuss this, federal and constitutional attorney Page Pate and national security correspondent for “The New York Times” Matthew Rosenberg. Thank you, gentlemen, for being here. A lot to unpack here. Matthew, from your perspective, how significant is this new reporting?
Matthew: I mean, it’s a pretty big deal. You know, we don’t ask a lot of people who are helping run major political party campaigns, or serving in our government, or wanna help get people elected. We do ask, though, that they be basically loyal to America and they not secretly be trying to help foreign governments, people close to foreign governments.
We now have the campaign chairman, at one point, was offering help to people tied to the Kremlin. And let’s not forget that Mike Flynn, who went on to be National Security Advisor, was secretly working for Turkey, lobbying for Turkey, while advising the Trump campaign. I mean, how much of this are we gonna see?
Ryan: Mm-hmm. And, you know, it’s important to point out, there are pictures of Deripaska and Russian President Vladimir Putin together.
Ryan: I mean, doesn’t this make it plausible that Putin would have been aware of the fact that Deripaska would have had this kind of leverage over President Trump’s campaign manager?
Matthew: Definitely possible. Look, I don’t like the term collusion. It’s just this fuzzy, what exactly does it mean. But this certainly seems pretty close to collusion. You know, a guy becomes campaign chairman. He’s got a lot of money and debt to a Russian oligarch that’s tight with Vladimir Putin. And he starts going to the oligarch saying, “Hey, let me give you briefings. Let me help you out, to try and make good on my debt.” I mean, I’m not quite sure where the [inaudible 00:01:25] is here.
Ryan: Mm-hmm. Now, Page, to play devil’s advocate on this, could this possibly, actually, open an alibi for President Trump, to a certain extent, to say, “This was all Paul Manafort’s thing. He was involved in something that was inappropriate, but I didn’t have any knowledge of it. And therefore, this isn’t something that I should have to deal with.”?
Page: Well, Ryan, that would certainly be consistent with what President Trump has said so far about Michael Cohen, some of the other individuals who were charged and prosecuted by both the special counsel’s office and the Department of Justice. But what we have yet to see is the full extent of the Mueller investigation. We have only seen what was necessary for the criminal charges that were brought in court.
I am certain that Mueller has a lot of information about ties between the Trump organization, Trump himself, and Russians during the time of the campaign and the transition. Now, that’s not going to be revealed until his report is prepared and submitted to the Department of Justice. The real question is, what happens after that point? Will there be further proceedings, either in court or in Congress, against the President?
Ryan: You know, Matthew, it seems like we’re almost inundated with these little tidbits of information about Russia, how they’re connected to President Trump. I mean, put this into perspective for us. On a scale of 1 to 10, how significant do you believe this new development could be?
Matthew: I mean, I’m gonna say, like, a solid six or seven, which is sorta the coward’s answer, I guess, here. I mean, look, you’re right. There’s, like, information seems to flow out. I find myself… I cover this, and I come out and lose track of who’s who and what’s what here. But you have this basic thing where you have person after person who seems to have connections to either Russians, or some other foreign government, or some kind of dirty dealing.
Now, look, Trump may well be ignorant of this. But the President doesn’t seem particularly outraged about it. He’s not tweeting tonight, “Oh, God, this is bad.” He’s tweeting about Mueller’s investigation, Democrats, old text messages.
Ryan: Right. You know, Page, you know, I wonder, though, you talk about how much Robert Mueller knows about the role that these Russian actors have played. But how much are they gonna be able to cooperate with the investigation, and how much Mueller can do to compel them to get involved in this? We know that Mueller’s team tried to talk to Boyarkin, and he told them to “go dig a ditch.”
I mean, if Boyarkin won’t talk, is there anything that Mueller can do? I mean, can he compel him through subpoena? I mean, he lives in a different country. He’s not necessarily bound by Robert Mueller’s subpoena power.
Page: No, he’s not at all. And you raise a great point, Ryan. There’s only so much that Mueller or any official in the Department of Justice can do to go after a foreign national. I mean, we’ve seen Robert Mueller indict a number of Russian individuals who simply just said, “I’m not showing up. You know, come get me if you can.” And there’s no extradition treaty with Russia right now.
And, clearly, the Russian government’s not cooperating in this investigation. So he’s not gonna be able to get the cooperation of those individuals. But there will be plenty of documents and plenty of people in the United States who have been interviewed by the special counsel’s office, who will be able to corroborate some of these connections. We’ll see where that leads.
Ryan: Yeah, and among them, Paul Manafort has talked to the special counsel. We know Michael Cohen has talked to the special counsel. Michael Flynn has talked to the special counsel. So, you’re right. There’s a possibility those dots may be connected somewhere else. All right, Matthew Rosenberg, Page Pate, thank you both for being here.
Matthew: Thank you.
Page: Thank you.