After stalling for months, President Trump’s lawyers have finally acquiesced and handed over a trove of material to special counsel Robert Mueller and congressional committees investigating whether or not the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to undermine the 2016 presidential election.
CNN broke the news Thursday, reporting that the documents cover “a range of events, conversations and meetings from President Donald Trump’s real estate business to investigators probing Russian election meddling, according to three people familiar with the matter.”
“The bulk of the information is focused on the period between June 2015, when Trump announced his candidacy, and his January 2017 inauguration,” the report continues.”
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Crucially, this time period covers the period during the campaign when Donald Trump, Jr, hosted a meeting at Trump Tower with Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and at least 4 Russian operatives with ties to the Kremlin. When news of that secret meeting broke in July of 2017, Don, Jr. issued a statement explaining that the meeting was only about reinstating a Russian adoption program that Vladimir Putin had cancelled.
That explanation – later discovered to have come from the White House with text included at the president’s direction – completely collapsed within days when emails surfaced proving the president’s son knew the Russians wanted to meet to hand over damaging information on Hillary Clinton that the Kremlin had curated.
More eye-raising than the time period of the information requested, however, is the source. This document dump isn’t from the Trump Campaign; it’s from the Trump Organization, the president’s vast real estate and product branding business currently run by his two sons.
During the campaign and into the transition, Trump kept the line between his private business interests and his run for public office deliberately blurred. He utilized facilities, personnel and even funding from one to benefit the other. It was impossible to tell where the Trump Organization ended and the Trump Campaign began.
In July of 2017, President Trump warned investigators not to go on a fishing expedition into his family’s business, arguing that Mueller and congress only have a mandate to investigate the role Russia played in the 2016 election, not his family’s business interests. This document dump, however, indicate that he and his lawyers may finally be retreating from that fight.