President Donald Trump has, perhaps an uncountable number of times, stated that the findings of the Russia investigation, led by former special counsel Robert Mueller, resulted in no evidence of collusion between him, Russia, or any intermediaries working between the two.
Trump has, in fact, tweeted about collusion as recently as the end of October, in spite of the fact that Mueller’s investigation wrapped up in April of this year, with his testimony on the report taking place in June.
But new testimony from Rick Gates, who served as deputy campaign manager on Trump’s 2016 campaign, hints that collusion could well-be making a comeback in the American political lexicon within the next few days or so.
Testifying at the trial of Trump ally Roger Stone, Gates stated under oath that he was aware of conversations between Stone and Trump that suggested the president (as a candidate for office) knew more about a plan by Wikileaks to release embarrassing emails from the Democratic National Committee than he had earlier led investigators to believe he did, the Washington Post reported.
Rick Gates direct is over. Brief but hardly lacking in substance, including government getting on record that Donald Trump himself talked about upcoming WikiLeaks disclosures based on conversation with Roger Stone
— Rachel Weiner (@rachelweinerwp) November 12, 2019
Gates said he overheard a phone call between Stone and Trump, where Stone seemed to alert the Republican presidential candidate to the planned release of documents by Wikileaks. Stone made himself out to be a middle-man of sorts between the campaign and Wikileaks, Gates also said in his testimony.
In addition to those revelations, Gates stated that campaign manager Paul Manafort told him that Trump would be made aware on updates to the Wikileaks plans on a regular basis.
Investigators have noted that Wikileaks obtained the hacked emails from the DNC and other prominent Democratic Party officials due to cyber espionage efforts from Russia. The emails that were dumped by Wikileaks from the DNC included insults from Debbie Wasserman Schultz, then the head of the DNC, toward Bernie Sanders campaign staffers, and messages from the party showing alleged favoritism toward Hillary Clinton, according to a report from CNN.
Gates said he was aware of at least one phone call between Trump and Stone about the plans for the Wikileaks emails being discussed. After the phone call ended, Trump said aloud, “more information would be coming,” Gates recalled.
Trump previously testified in written testimony during the Mueller investigation that he was not aware or could not recall any interactions with campaign staff regarding the matter.
“I do not recall discussing WikiLeaks with [Roger Stone], nor do I recall being aware of Mr. Stone having discussed WikiLeaks with individuals associated with my campaign,” Trump wrote in his deposition, per reporting from NBC News.
So there was collusion, and there was lying to cover it up. And while I suspect the impeachment articles will be narrowly Ukraine-focused, members of Congress deliberating on impeachment are entitled to consider whether Ukraine is part of a longer train of abuses and usurpations. https://t.co/uT5CyDVYLF
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) November 12, 2019
Some on social media, including prominent conservative commentator Bill Kristol, said that the revelations by Gates on Tuesday was a clear sign that collusion did indeed occur between the Trump campaign, Wikileaks, and possibly Russia.
“So there was collusion, and there was lying to cover it up,” Kristol concluded from Gates’s testimony. “And while I suspect the impeachment articles will be narrowly Ukraine-focused, members of Congress deliberating on impeachment are entitled to consider whether Ukraine is part of a longer train of abuses and usurpations.”