President Donald Trump answered written questions from special counsel Robert Mueller in lieu of an in-person interview. After Mueller's report was released Thursday, we dug through the president's responses and found many of his answers were things we already knew.
Mueller's written questions are divided into four sections: the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower; Russian hacking efforts and attempts to influence the election using social media and WikiLeaks; the Trump Organization Moscow project; and contacts with Russia during the campaign.
Let's get into it. In the first section, Mueller asks the president what he knew about the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting about Hillary Clinton's emails that involved Russian nationals. President Trump said he had "no recollection" of Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort or Jared Kushner participating in the meeting and that he didn't know during his campaign that the meeting took place. We've seen his response before; on July 27, 2018, President Trump tweeted, "I did NOT know of the meeting with my son, Don jr."
Mueller also asked about remarks the president made at the Trump National Golf Club on June 7, 2016, just days before the Trump Tower meeting took place. President Trump told Mueller he didn't know about the upcoming meeting, but part of his speech raised questions about that. He said: "I am going to give a major speech on probably Monday of next week, and we're going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons." In his written response to Mueller, President Trump said he meant he was going to talk about Hillary Clinton's failed policies, her "improper use of a private server for the State Department business, the destruction of 33,000 emails on that server" and other things that were "publicly available." This part is new — before the release of his responses, we didn't know what the president meant by "discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons."
When Mueller asked the president about "Russian hacking, Russian efforts using social media and WikiLeaks," he replied that he "had no knowledge" of Manafort "offering briefings on the progress" of his campaign to a Russian oligarch. President Trump told Mueller that Manafort was "primarily" hired because of his work with several past presidential candidates. On Jan. 11, 2017, in his first press conference since winning the 2016 election, President Trump said he had no business dealings with Russia.
The fact that Mueller didn't get to actually interview President Trump was widely criticized, and in his report, Mueller acknowledges his team found the written answers "inadequate." Ultimately, though, the special counsel's team decided not to subpoena the president for an interview, saying they were able to "draw relevant factual conclusions" from other sources.
Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.