Over the past twelve hours, the Trump-Russia scandal has taken a series of twists and turns, largely focused on the revelation that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has had the Trump transition team’s emails all along. These emails likely incriminate quite a number of Trump’s current and former people. But an overlooked detail in the story may prove to be the most crucial of all: Mueller also has the Trump team’s laptops and cellphones.
Here’s the relevant passage from Reuters, which we’ll quote here for the purpose of dissecting what’s really going on here: “The FBI had requested the materials from GSA staff on Aug. 23, asking for copies of the emails, laptops, cell phones and other materials associated with nine members of the Trump transition team responsible for national security and policy matters.” (link). So what are we looking at? First, it means Mueller has copies of all the data and history on the laptops and cellphones used by the Trump transition team. This provides far broader avenues for evidence gathering than mere emails.
If Trump’s people were their usual sloppy selves, it’s unlikely that they wiped (or sufficiently wiped) the devices they had been using. This means Mueller would have access to every word processing document they typed, and perhaps access to personal email accounts that were being used on those laptops. The cellphones would not provide recordings of transition team phone conversations, but would have call histories, and potentially copies of voicemails. This is just the beginning.
Reuters says that Robert Mueller was targeting nine people on the Trump transition team in particular. Who are they? “National security and policy matters” could be interpreted in a few different ways. While this is not an indicator of guilt, here is a partial list of some Trump transition team members whose official titles could fit the above description: Michael Flynn, Mike Pence, Rudy Giuliani, Reince Priebus, and Jeff Sessions. Flynn has already cut a plea deal.
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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report