Following a detailed review of Mueller’s statement of criminal information and plea agreement for Michael Cohen, as well as interviews with members of the various Congressional committees who have conducted investigations of the case, Real Clear Investigation’s Paul Sperry has made some interesting discoveries.
Hill investigators who have seen copies of Cohen’s emails and texts as well as the “still-secret transcripts of closed-door testimony provided by a business associate of Cohen,” say that Mueller’s team has omitted details that would seriously weaken their case, and could possibly exonerate the President.
The Mueller team has tried to create the impression that Trump and/or his representatives had a direct “back channel” to the Kremlin or even to Putin himself. Instead, Michael Cohen’s contacts with Russia consisted of emails sent to a general press mailbox. Sperry wrote:
On page 7 of the statement of criminal information (a document which takes the place of an indictment when an individual agrees to plead guilty) filed against Cohen, which is separate from but related to the plea agreement, Mueller mentions that Cohen tried to email Russian President Vladimir Putin’s office on Jan. 14, 2016, and again on Jan. 16, 2016. But Mueller, who personally signed the document, omitted the fact that Cohen did not have any direct points of contact at the Kremlin, and had resorted to sending the emails to a general press mailbox. Sources who have seen these additional emails point out that this omitted information undercuts the idea of a “back channel” and thus the special counsel’s collusion case.
Page 2 of the same criminal information document holds additional exculpatory evidence for Trump, sources say. It quotes an August 2017 letter from Cohen to the Senate intelligence committee in which he states that Trump “was never in contact with anyone about this [Moscow Project] proposal other than me.” This section of Cohen’s written testimony, unlike other parts, is not disputed as false by Mueller, which sources say means prosecutors have tested its veracity through corroborating sources and found it to be accurate.
Also notable, Mueller did not challenge Cohen’s statement that he “ultimately determined that the proposal was not feasible and never agreed to make a trip to Russia.”
“Though Cohen may have lied to Congress about the dates,” one Hill investigator said, “it’s clear from personal messages he sent in 2015 and 2016 that the Trump Organization did not have formal lines of communication set up with Putin’s office or the Kremlin during the campaign. There was no secret ‘back channel.’”
“So as far as collusion goes,” the source added, “the project is actually more exculpatory than incriminating for Trump and his campaign.”
The mainstream media has aided Mueller in reporting that Trump not only had connections to the Kremlin, but to Putin himself. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer reported that “Well into the 2016 campaign, one of the president’s closest associates was in touch with the Kremlin on this project, as we now know, and Michael Cohen says he was lying about it to protect the president…Cohen was communicating directly with the Kremlin.”
Nothing could be farther from the truth. Cohen’s contact during the entire time Trump was considering this as a potential project was Felix Sater, who had urged him to travel to Russia, which neither he nor Trump ever did. It turned out that Sater’s boasts about his influence within the Kremlin were a lie.
Emails and texts indicate that Sater could only offer Cohen access to one of his acquaintances, who was an acquaintance of someone else who was partners in a real estate development with a friend of Putin’s.
Talks broke off in June 2016. Trump publicly stated seven months later, just days before his inauguration, that his company has never had any real estate holdings in Russia. Nothing in Mueller’s latest filings disputes that assertion.
Sources say Sater, whom Cohen described as a “salesman,” testified to the House intelligence panel in late 2017 that his communications with Cohen about putting Trump and Putin on a stage for a “ribbon-cutting” for a Trump Tower in Moscow were “mere puffery” to try to promote the project and get it off the ground.
Also according to his still-undisclosed testimony, Sater swore none of those communications involved taking any action to influence the 2016 presidential election. None of the emails and texts between Sater and Cohen mention Russian plans or efforts to hack Democrats’ campaign emails or influence the election.
Far from being an airtight case, if what Sperry’s sources are telling him is correct, Mueller really has no case at all.
More and more, it is appearing that Mueller has been working at projecting the belief that Trump colluded with Russians. The reality is that evidence of any direct communication is completely absent. It’s time for Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker to demand a progress report from Mueller. Mueller needs to answer a few questions of his own.
- What crime do they believe Trump committed? NAME THE CRIME that has held the Trump administration hostage for two years.
- Do they have any evidence that Trump or any members of his campaign had contact with Putin or any high-level Kremlin officials? It’s time for solid proof, phone records, emails, text. Show us.
- Why was the FBI planting informants in Trump’s campaign prior to the beginning of the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation which began on July 31, 2016?
- How much were these informants paid by the government? Who hired them? Who interacted with them?
- What was the FBI’s reason for starting a counterintelligence investigation of Donald Trump? According to the testimony of former FBI lawyer Lisa Page this summer, there was no valid reason for it.
Interestingly, Michael Goodwin of The New York Post interviewed President Trump last week and said that Trump is “prepping for all out political war” against the Democrats. Goodwin wrote that Trump is “furiously frustrated” with the Mueller probe and the barrage of investigations that House Democrats have promised to unleash in January. The President said:
“I will hit them so hard, they’ve never seen a hit like that,” he said, referring to his power to release secret documents, some of which, he hinted, will be deeply embarrassing to Barack Obama’s administration.
“If they want to play tough, I will do it,” he said. “And they will see how devastating those pages are.”
“I’m sure [fired FBI Director James] Comey had someone above because you know there’s no question that [then CIA-boss] John Brennan was involved,” Trump said. “There’s no question that all of these people you see on television, all of these lightweights were involved, and it’s hard to believe that the president wasn’t involved.
“And the only reason they were doing it was just in case I won.”
As for the dossier, Trump asks: “So why isn’t Mueller looking at that? Russians were paid for the phony dossier. Now it’s been discredited, it’s total baloney, but a lot of money was passed.”
Does President Trump mean it this time? He really hasn’t fought it. Yes, he tweets about the witch hunt, but he hasn’t gone on the offensive as many Republicans have hoped. And he has some pretty powerful weapons at his disposal. With Trump being Trump, it’s surprising he hasn’t deployed any of them yet. Sounds as if he’s waiting for just the right moment. Let’s hope.