On a day when President Donald Trump floated the possibility of submitting written answers to impeachment investigators, the House’s general counsel has revealed that lawmakers are investigating whether Trump lied to former Special Counsel Robert Mueller in written answers and perjured himself.
The news came out in court, where the U.S. Department of Justice is arguing against the release of Mueller’s underlying grand jury materials and full report. House Democrats’ general counsel Douglas Letter asked a serious question in court to illustrate why lawmakers need the materials they are seeking.
“Did the President lie? Was the President not truthful in his responses to the Mueller investigation?” he asked.
Trump’s written answers were thrust back into the spotlight last week at the Roger Stone trial. Prosecutors said Stone lied to federal investigators to protect Trump, and a jury convicted Stone on all seven criminal counts against him.
Witness testimony contradicted what Trump said in written answers about his phone conversations with Stone between June 1, 2016 and November 8, 2016.
“I do not recall discussing WikiLeaks with him,” Trump said.
During his testimony, cooperating witness Rick Gates said he was in a car with then-candidate Trump while the latter was engaged in a phone call with Stone about those upcoming WikiLeaks disclosures. According to a substantially-redacted page from the Mueller Report, Gates was in a Suburban with Trump on the way to New York City’s LaGuardia Airport sometime during “the late summer of 2016.”
Federal prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky, a former member of Mueller’s team, asked Gates what happened after Trump got off the line with Stone. Gates replied: “He indicated more information would be coming.” House investigators likely want to examine this testimony from Gates closely, as it is a direct contradiction of Trump’s written testimony provided to Mueller in late 2018.
Mueller asked Trump several questions about Trump’s communications with Stone and Stone’s knowledge regarding “forthcoming releases of information” from Wikileaks. In response to that series of questions, Trump wrote that he didn’t recall any specifics of conversations he had with Stone from June 1, 2016 to November 8, 2016:
I spoke by telephone with Roger Stone from time to time during the campaign. I have no recollection of the specifics of any conversations I had with Mr. Stone between June 1, 2016 and November 8, 2016. I do not recall discussing WikiLeaks with him, nor do I recall being aware of Mr. Stone having discussed WikiLeaks with individuals associated with my campaign, although I was aware that WikiLeaks was the subject of media reporting and campaign-related discussion at the time.
Colin Kalmbacher contributed to this report.
[Image via NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images.]