New York Times editorial: Mueller already has evidence of Trump 'conspiracy to mislead federal officials' about Russia
Donald Trump and Mike Flynn (

In an editorial published on Thursday, New York Times contributor Ryan Goodman suggested that the Trump inner circle had already been implicated in a 'conspiracy... to mislead federal officials' about Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

"Donald Trump and officials of the 2016 Trump campaign have established a clear pattern of lying to the media," Goodman writes. "More important for the law on obstruction, they have also either approached or crossed right over the line of lying to federal authorities."

Giving false statements to the media is not a crime. But lying to federal authorities can land people in jail.

We know that to the media, since at least July 2016, Mr. Trump and campaign officials lied, repeatedly and often, about not having had contacts with Russian officials. As late as August 2017, President Trump held that line, telling The Wall Street Journal: “There’s nobody on the campaign that saw anybody from Russia. We had nothing to do with Russia.”

This sustained pattern of lying to the media about any Russian contacts was almost surely done by design and coordinated from within Mr. Trump’s inner circle.

According to Goodman, there is reason to believe "statements to federal authorities also done by design and coordinated."

"If you direct your attention to the series of known cases when Trump officials have not told the truth to the F.B.I. and to Congress about Russian contacts, what emerges is a likely conspiracy on the part of Mr. Trump’s inner circle to mislead federal officials," Goodman notes. "That’s where the stakes could not be much higher for the White House. Not only is it a crime to lie to federal authorities; it’s also a crime to encourage others to do so, whether or not they follow through with crossing the line of perjury."

Noting the long history of Trump officials lying about Russia connections, Goodman concludes, "In short, if you block out much of the noise that has surrounded the Russia investigation and focus on certain public information, you can see the outline of a concerted effort to mislead federal officials."

He adds: "It will not take much for the special counsel to get to the bottom of how far the president and his associates went to cover up their Russian contacts. With Mr. Flynn, Mr. Papadopoulos and now Steve Bannon cooperating, if and when the time comes for Mr. Trump’s interview, Mr. Mueller’s team will be well prepared to ask the president about his own knowledge and involvement."

Read the entire op-ed here.