“[Rick] Gates recalled a time on the campaign aircraft when candidate Trump said, ‘get the emails.’ [Michael] Flynn said he could use his intelligence sources to obtain the emails,” investigators wrote in a summary of Gates’ April 2018 interview with Mueller’s team. Flynn was a foreign policy adviser on the campaign and became Trump’s first national security adviser.
“Flynn had the most Russia contacts of anyone on the campaign and was in the best position to ask for the emails if they were out there,” the investigators also wrote about Gates’ interview.
Gates described in an interview with Mueller investigators last year how several close advisers to Trump, Trump’s family members and Trump himself considered how to get the stolen documents and pushed the effort, according to investigators’ summary.
“Gates said Donald Trump Jr. would ask where the emails were in family meetings. Michael Flynn, [Jared] Kushner, [Paul] Manafort, [Redacted] [Corey] Lewandowski, Jeff Sessions, and Sam Clovis expressed interest in obtaining the emails as well. Gates said the priority focuses of the Trump campaign opposition research team were Clinton’s emails and contributions to the Clinton Foundation. Flynn, [Redacted] [Jeff] Sessions, Kushner, and [Donald] Trump Jr. were all focused on opposition topics,” Gates told investigators, according to the interview summary.
The release, received by CNN on Saturday, includes 274 pages of Mueller team interview notes, emails and other documents related to the cooperation of Gates, former top campaign official Steve Bannon and former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen. Both Cohen and Gates pleaded guilty to criminal charges from Mueller. Bannon was not charged with any crime.
Bannon told the special counsel’s office how Trump took interest in finding the 33,000 missing Hillary Clinton emails that she said she had erased from her private server, according to the documents. Neither Bannon nor Gates said they knew the Russians had stolen the Democratic documents, but believed foreign nationals had done the hacks.
Trump had asked publicly for Russia to find the missing emails when he spoke at a campaign rally in 2016.
Fox News host Sean Hannity also makes several appearances in the interview notes, fleshing out just how entwined the primetime TV personality had become with the Trump political operation in 2016.
“[Rick] Gates said, during the campaign, Trump and [campaign chairman Paul] Manafort talked to Sean Hannity in their offices often,” special counsel’s office investigators noted Gates told them in April 2018.
Manafort, according to the released documents, also emailed Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and others three days before the 2016 presidential election, saying Manafort had briefed Hannity.
Large parts of the interview notes are still redacted by the Justice Department.