New details from the Justice Department’s inquiry into Russian influence over the 2016 election released Friday underscored President Donald Trump’s keen interest in weaponizing information stolen by the Russians and funneled to WikiLeaks for use against his 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton.
The new disclosures also emphasized prosecutors’ doubts about whether Trump told them the truth when he was questioned during the two-year investigation by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, into Russian interference in that election and whether the Trump campaign conspired with Moscow to influence its outcome.
Overall, however, the new information shed little new light on the special counsel’s inquiry that dominated the first two years of Trump’s presidency. It was released in response to a lawsuit claiming that the Justice Department’s redactions of sensitive information in the Mueller report violated the Freedom of Information Act.
Many of the disclosures confirmed information already revealed in media reports or in criminal cases against Trump’s former aides. The public record is replete with accounts of both the Trump campaign’s efforts to use purloined emails against Clinton and the president’s attempts to frustrate the special counsel’s inquiry, including by dangling pardons before key witnesses and targets in hopes that they would not cooperate with law enforcement officials.