To Mueller, Trump Couldn’t Recall if He Conspired With Russia

While the shootings in El Paso and Dayton have been dominating the political discussion, Representative Jerrold Nadler, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, laid out an impeachment timeline.

I think that we will probably get the court decisions by the end of October. We will have hearings in September and October, who are witnesses not dependent on the court proceedings and we will do it through the fall. If we decide to report articles of impeachment, we could get to that late in the fall, in the latter part of the year.

It is clear that the Judiciary Committee is focused on Trump’s obstruction of justice. That’s because, contrary to what Attorney General Barr has said, anyone who wasn’t currently serving as president would be facing criminal charges based on the evidence in Mueller’s report.

But it is also important to keep in mind that Trump hasn’t been cleared of charges that he conspired with the Russian government to interfere in the election. In his summary of that part of his investigation, Mueller noted that there were gaps in the information they obtained, including the fact that some individuals provided information that was false or incomplete.

On the question of conspiracy, Donald Trump has uttered the words “no collusion” in public over 400 times since the beginning of the special counsel’s investigation. But as John Walasik has documented, when the president provided written answers to Mueller’s questions under oath, he didn’t assert that no collusion happened. Instead, he claimed over and over again that he couldn’t recall. In his report, Mueller notes that “the President stated on more than 30 occasions that he ‘does not recall or remember or have an independent recollection’ of information called for by the questions.”

For example, when asked whether he knew about Russia’s plans to hack DNC emails, here is how Trump responded.

Question 1: “Did you know about Russian plans to hack the DNC…”

“I do not remember… To the best of my recollection… I do not remember…”

Questions 2–3, regarding Wikileaks release of 20,000 Democratic party emails and whether Trump knew about it beforehand, or knew if they had more emails to release later.

“I have no recollection of any particular conversation…”

Question 4, regarding whether Trump knew about any communications between people associated with his campaign and Wikileaks, or anyone associated with Russian hacking and leaking.

“I do not recall being aware…”

It Trump didn’t know about Russia’s plans for hacking DNC emails or the timing of their release, why wouldn’t he just say so? He responded similarly to questions about whether he was aware of the fact that his campaign manager, Paul Manafort, shared campaign data with Russian operatives. Walasik writes, “In summary, Trump would like everyone to believe that when it comes to Russian interference in the 2016 election, he does not remember the specifics of what he knew at the time.”

This is, indeed, perplexing. If Trump can’t recall what happened in 2016, how can he state so emphatically that there was “no collusion” (ie, conspiracy)? Is it possible that his public statements are lies? That wouldn’t be a stretch, given that he has lied well over 10,000 times as president. But when questioned under oath, he simply couldn’t recall whether he conspired with the Russian government to influence the election. If that is the case, then we’re talking about a pretty serious case of dementia—or he’s guilty as hell.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.