What Got Added to Sekulow’s List: Further Obstruction (Including Consideration of Firing Mueller), and “Collusion”
As bmaz noted, the NYT just published the most batshit letter, written on January 29 by John Dowd and Jay Sekulow, trying to dodge testimony for Trump. Here’s what, according to Dowd and Sekulow, Mueller had told them on January 8 he wanted to ask about.
- Former National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn — information regarding his contacts with Ambassador Kislyak about sanctions during the transition process;
- Lt. Gen. Flynn’s communications with Vice President Michael Pence regarding those contacts;
- Lt. Gen. Flynn’s interview with the FBI regarding the same;
- Then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates coming to the White House to discuss same;
- The President’s meeting on February 14, 2017, with then-Director James Comey;
- Any other relevant information regarding former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn;
- The President’s awareness of and reaction to investigations by the FBI, the House and the Senate into possible collusion;
- The President’s reaction to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal from the Russia investigation;
- The President’s reaction to Former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony on March 20, 2017, before the House Intelligence Committee;
- Information related to conversations with intelligence officials generally regarding ongoing investigations;
- Information regarding who the President had had conversations with concerning Mr. Comey’s performance;
- Whether or not Mr. Comey’s May 3, 2017, testimony lead to his termination;
- Information regarding communications with Ambassador Kislyak, Minister Lavrov, and Lester Holt;
- The President’s reaction to the appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel;
- The President’s interaction with Attorney General Sessions as it relates to the appointment of Special Counsel; and,
- The statement of July 8, 2017, concerning Donald Trump, Jr.’s meeting in Trump Tower.
On March 5, Trump’s lawyers had a heated meeting with Mueller’s team, where Mueller floated a subpoena. In the wake of that meeting, Mueller provided a new list of topics of interest, which resulted in the Sekulow list leaked a month ago.
In the wake of the testy March 5 meeting, Mueller’s team agreed to provide the president’s lawyers with more specific information about the subjects that prosecutors wished to discuss with the president. With those details in hand, Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow compiled a list of 49 questions that the team believed the president would be asked,
Here’s that list, as presented by the NYT (there are fewer than the 49 described by the NYT because of how they combined questions). I’ve bolded the ones that appear to be entirely new in the later list.
- What did you know about phone calls that Mr. Flynn made with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, in late December 2016?
- What was your reaction to news reports on Jan. 12, 2017, and Feb. 8-9, 2017?
- What did you know about Sally Yates’s meetings about Mr. Flynn?
- How was the decision made to fire Mr. Flynn on Feb. 13, 2017?
- After the resignations, what efforts were made to reach out to Mr. Flynn about seeking immunity or possible pardon?
- What was your opinion of Mr. Comey during the transition?
- What did you think about Mr. Comey’s intelligence briefing on Jan. 6, 2017, about Russian election interference?
- What was your reaction to Mr. Comey’s briefing that day about other intelligence matters?
- What was the purpose of your Jan. 27, 2017, dinner with Mr. Comey, and what was said?
- What was the purpose of your Feb. 14, 2017, meeting with Mr. Comey, and what was said?
- What did you know about the F.B.I.’s investigation into Mr. Flynn and Russia in the days leading up to Mr. Comey’s testimony on March 20, 2017?
- What did you do in reaction to the March 20 testimony? Describe your contacts with intelligence officials.
- What did you think and do in reaction to the news that the special counsel was speaking to Mr. Rogers, Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Coats?
- What was the purpose of your calls to Mr. Comey on March 30 and April 11, 2017?
- What was the purpose of your April 11, 2017, statement to Maria Bartiromo?
- What did you think and do about Mr. Comey’s May 3, 2017, testimony?
- Regarding the decision to fire Mr. Comey: When was it made? Why? Who played a role?
- What did you mean when you told Russian diplomats on May 10, 2017, that firing Mr. Comey had taken the pressure off?
- What did you mean in your interview with Lester Holt about Mr. Comey and Russia?
- What was the purpose of your May 12, 2017, tweet?
- What did you think about Mr. Comey’s June 8, 2017, testimony regarding Mr. Flynn, and what did you do about it?
- What was the purpose of the September and October 2017 statements, including tweets, regarding an investigation of Mr. Comey?
- What is the reason for your continued criticism of Mr. Comey and his former deputy, Andrew G. McCabe?
- What did you think and do regarding the recusal of Mr. Sessions?
- What efforts did you make to try to get him to change his mind?
- Did you discuss whether Mr. Sessions would protect you, and reference past attorneys general?
- What did you think and what did you do in reaction to the news of the appointment of the special counsel?
- Why did you hold Mr. Sessions’s resignation until May 31, 2017, and with whom did you discuss it?
- What discussions did you have with Reince Priebus in July 2017 about obtaining the Sessions resignation? With whom did you discuss it?
- What discussions did you have regarding terminating the special counsel, and what did you do when that consideration was reported in January 2018?
- What was the purpose of your July 2017 criticism of Mr. Sessions?
- When did you become aware of the Trump Tower meeting?
- What involvement did you have in the communication strategy, including the release of Donald Trump Jr.’s emails?
- During a 2013 trip to Russia, what communication and relationships did you have with the Agalarovs and Russian government officials?
- What communication did you have with Michael D. Cohen, Felix Sater and others, including foreign nationals, about Russian real estate developments during the campaign?
- What discussions did you have during the campaign regarding any meeting with Mr. Putin? Did you discuss it with others?
- What discussions did you have during the campaign regarding Russian sanctions?
- What involvement did you have concerning platform changes regarding arming Ukraine?
- During the campaign, what did you know about Russian hacking, use of social media or other acts aimed at the campaign?
- What knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign, including by Paul Manafort, to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign?
- What did you know about communication between Roger Stone, his associates, Julian Assange or WikiLeaks?
- What did you know during the transition about an attempt to establish back-channel communication to Russia, and Jared Kushner’s efforts?
- What do you know about a 2017 meeting in Seychelles involving Erik Prince?
- What do you know about a Ukrainian peace proposal provided to Mr. Cohen in 2017?
The additions are instructive. The one new bit on Flynn involves Trump’s offer of a pardon.
The new bits on obstruction pertain to ongoing efforts to obstruct the investigation, including consideration of firing Mueller and ongoing efforts to discredit Jim Comey and Andrew McCabe.
But the most interesting are the 14 or so questions on Trump’s involvement in and awareness of election tampering. Given the timing of Rick Gates’ plea on February 23 and the subsequent focus on Roger Stone and Michael Cohen, I’m particularly interested in the addition of questions involving both of them (as well as the question about Manafort’s efforts to get Russia’s help).
Trump would have been far better off having an interview in January. Because the questions are getting harder — and Mueller’s interest in his involvement in “collusion” is getting more apparent.