Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team reportedly thought it could build a case showing conspiracy between Russian officials and the Trump campaign — but they were thwarted by former campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s incessant lying.
Appearing on CNN Monday, Washington Post reporter Rosalind Helderman said that it was inaccurate to conclude that Mueller’s team believed early on that they would not be able to establish a conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign.
In fact, she notes, they weighed the possibility of such a conspiracy even as they were writing their final report.
“They were working on that case all the way until just before the report was completed and submitted,” she said. “They were looking to see if there was a case, that there was some kind of a criminal conspiracy with Russia or also through WikiLeaks.”
One particular avenue prosecutors were exploring was why Manafort was sharing internal campaign polling data with Ukrainian national Konstantin Kilimnik, whom the FBI has accused of being a Russian spy.
“They said they could not answer that question, why he was doing that,” she said. “They had some evidence that it was an attempt to sort of impress business leaders in the Ukraine and Russia so that he could make money. But they had this sort of torturous time period in September and October where they were bringing Paul Manafort in from jail for session after session with investigators to debrief him, and ultimately they threw up their hands and told the judge they thought he was lying.”
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