[GAMES OF THRONES-STYLE MUSIC PLAYS]
ILYA MARRITZ: Thursday Morning, 9:57. The President of the United States Tweeted an image of himself, in a sea of fog, with the words “NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION,” and in big, Game of Thrones-style font, “GAME OVER.”
MARRITZ: Of course, he was talking about the Mueller Report, which hadn’t yet been released to the public. Minutes earlier, Trump’s Attorney General William Barr briefed the American people on the Report on live TV.
WILLIAM BARR: But thanks to the Special Counsel’s thorough investigation, we now know that the Russian operatives who perpetrated these schemes did not have the cooperation of President Trump, or the Trump campaign, or the knowing assistance of any other American, for that matter. That is something that all Americans can and should be grateful to have confirmed.
MARRITZ: Barr said there was no collusion, and no obstruction. And then, sticking with his own script, he spoke about the President’s state of mind as the investigation unfolded.
BARR: … that the President was frustrated and angered by his sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks.
[URGENT PIANO MUSIC PLAYS]
MARRITZ: And then, the Report appeared — with some redactions — on the Justice Department website.
And at Trump, Inc., we set up our laptops in the biggest conference room we could find. We put our phones on airplane mode. Closed out of Twitter. And we read. And compared notes. And read. And read. And read some more.
It’s more than 400 pages. Incredibly interesting stuff.
We learned, for example, that the President tried to enlist those around him — even his former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, to get Jeff Sessions to limit the Mueller investigation. Lewandowski, and others, did not go along.
We learned that Vladimir Putin had quarterly meetings with Russia’s top oligarchs, who he sees as his tools to implement policy.
We learned that the President of Ukraine once gave Paul Manafort an enormous jar of caviar, worth an estimated $30,000.
Summarizing this Report would be a little bit like abridging the Bible. Adam and Eve and the snake, the Jews flee Egypt, Jesus is born, he’s crucified, he’s resurrected. It’s just too much to do in one episode.
So for our report on the Mueller Report, we’re going to focus on the part of the Trump Organization business that probably got the most scrutiny from Robert Mueller.
[A MONTAGE OF COVERAGE ON THE TRUMP TOWER MOSCOW PLAYS, EACH SPEAKER ALMOST SPEAKING OVER THE OTHER]
REPORTER 1: … Trump Organization real estate deal in Moscow.
REPORTER 2: … Trump Tower in Moscow …
REPORTER 3: [IN A BRITISH ACCENT] … Trump Tower in Moscow …
REPORTER 4: … Trump Tower in Moscow …
REPORTER 5: … Trump Tower in Moscow …
REPORTER 6: … Trump Tower, Moscow …
REPORTER 7: … Trump Towers in Moscow …
REPORTER 8: … Trump Tower in Moscow …
MARRITZ: It’s a deal that the Trump Organization pursued, at the exact same time that Trump (the Candidate) was taking off. And Trump (the Man) wanted us to know nothing about it.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: But I know nothing about the inner workings of Russia. I don’t deal there, I have no business there, I have no loans from Russia. [FADES UNDER]
MARRITZ: And when Michael Cohen exposed that as a lie —
PRESIDENT TRUMP: [OVER THE SOUND OF A PLANE] There would be nothing wrong if I did do it. I was running my business while I was campaigning. There was … [FADES DOWN]
[LIGHT PIANO MUSIC PLAYS]
MARRITZ: Robert Mueller did not find evidence to bring charges of conspiracy against Trump or people in his campaign involving Russia’s efforts to disrupt the 2016 election. But he laid out rich evidence of two other C words: “conflicts” and “cover-up” — maybe nowhere more than on the Moscow deal, which promised to bring big returns for little or no spending on the part of the Trump Organization.
So I’m gonna bring in three people now who have reported extensively on that deal. They’re all from our Trump, Inc. team.
WNYC’s Andrea Bernstein, and from ProPublica, Heather Vogell and Katie Zavadski.
Heather, Katie, Andrea. Welcome.
ALL GUESTS: Hi. Hey. Hey Ilya!
MARRITZ: I think you guys already showed very convincingly that Trump Tower Moscow matters. Now we have a wealth of additional information about that project from Robert Mueller. Andrea, how does this information change our understanding of what Trump Tower Moscow was going to be and why it matters?
ANDREA BERNSTEIN: So, first of all, it was much bigger than we realized. And there’s a point at which Michael Cohen is very clear. He says his conversations about this were not just chitchat. This was a billion-dollar deal. It was worth a lot of money. So it was bigger, it went longer. It was not actually formally closed out until after the election, and there were a lot more efforts to cover it up behind the scenes — to cover up the business deals — than we had previously understood.
MARRITZ: Heather, I think you should jump in on this point.
HEATHER VOGELL: Yeah. I think one of the things that really caught my attention quickly when I was reading was that we already knew that Michael Cohen had reached out to the people close to Putin in order to seek some help with getting this Tower built. But what this Report showed was that there were at least three other people who reached out to the Trump campaign offering help on behalf of Putin and his administration — help with the campaign. You know, sort of bringing Putin together with — potentially with Trump. And they really wanted Trump to travel to Russia to go to this economic forum, uh, this conference in St. Petersburg.
MARRITZ: So it was a two-way thing.
VOGELL: So yeah. So what it looked like to me was that Putin and his people wanted something out of Trump and were approaching and trying to build that relationship, and, at the same time, Trump — through his intermediaries — was trying to reach Putin’s people and to leverage that relationship for his business interests.
BERNSTEIN: And I think it’s worth saying [A QUICK LAUGH] at this point that all of these communications are going on on both sides while Russia was attacking the U.S. election. So there were two sets of activities. There was the hacking by the military intelligence and there was the injection of these anti-Hillary Clinton, pro-Trump messages by the Internet Research Agency, and that’s laid out in another part of the report. But what is so remarkable is that both these things are happening at the same time — that there are these discussions going on about building a Trump Tower and all of these surrounding discussions about approaches between Trump and the Russians, and the Russians and Trump.
VOGELL: I think it’s important to note at this point that Mueller did not show any evidence in this Report that there was kind of a connection between all these connections that led to some situation where the Tower in Moscow was linked in any way to the e-mail hacking. But there were these conversations that were going on.
BERNSTEIN: But it was the same people. I mean, it was the Kremlin. It was Putin and people around him that were directing those hacking activities. And, at the same time, there were these approaches to the Kremlin — many more than we knew about.
MARRITZ: So, Katie, when we were reporting this episode about Trump Tower Moscow a couple of months ago now, before the Mueller Report had come out, one of the central figures in that Report was Andrey Rozov. He was the co-developer for — as far as we know — the fifth attempt to build the Trump Tower in Moscow and that really got going, like, in the fall of 2015. Do I have that right?
KATIE ZAVADSKI: That’s right. So Andrey Rozov was one of the key questions for us in our reporting on Trump Tower Moscow. You know, Rozov wasn’t really someone who had led a project of this magnitude, and we were trying to figure out why of all of the developers in Russia — all the developers who had led projects of this magnitude, all of these developers who had led international projects — why they went with this guy.
MARRITZ: Right. They got a letter of intent signed by Donald Trump —
MARRITZ: — while he was campaigning?
MARRITZ: So you dug up a bit of interesting stuff that Rozov off for that episode, including the fact that he tried to develop a mall in this sort of Nowheresville town in North Dakota. Did Robert Mueller answer any of those many questions surrounding who this guy is and why Trump wanted to work with him?
ZAVADSKI: Mueller didn’t really touch upon Rozov’s qualifications. But what the Mueller Report did do is lay out the deal that Rozov was giving the Trump Organization. And the reality is that the Rozov deal was just a home run for Trump.
MARRITZ: Just more generous licensing fees. More fees, more fees, more fees. It looked too good to pass up.
ZAVADSKI: [SHOCKED] $4 million upfront!
ZAVADSKI: And one of the things that we found while we were reporting on Rozov and this Trump Tower Moscow project was that something of that magnitude — something in the locations where there they were looking to build — that would probably need a stamp of approval from Putin.
MARRITZ: Right. And I should probably say here, Katie, you out to Rozov and never heard from him. Heather, one of the things that’s really interesting in the Mueller Report, I think, is the Russians were also reaching out to the Trump Organization.
MARRITZ: And in some cases they were actually offering — or seemed to be offering — potential connections to the Kremlin to get precisely the approvals that they might need to build.
VOGELL: Exactly. Trump was approached by the ex-wife of Dmitry Klokov, who is a — he’s an executive with the state-owned electricity transmission company, and he was a former aide to an energy minister. And he was basically saying that he could offer the political synergy and the synergy on a government level that the Trump campaign needed, and that he would be able to facilitate a later meeting with a person of interest, who turned out to be Vladimir Putin himself. And what I thought was really interesting about this whole interaction was that he’s sort of making these offers related to the campaign and — which are very interesting — and Cohen comes back, according to the Mueller report, and starts talking about “Well, I’d like to come to, you know, Russia to do site surveys and talk about the Trump Tower Moscow,” so you could see or to see. Cohen really trying to leverage these relationships and this sort of new interest that was being thrown toward the Trump Organization and sort of new legitimacy and to leverage that into this massive business deal that they were trying to negotiate.
BERNSTEIN: But what is so incredibly crazy about this interaction with Dmitry Klokov is that Michael Cohen Googles him, according to the Mueller report, and he gets him confused with an Olympic wrestler.
MARRITZ: By the same name?
BERNSTEIN: By the same name. And he thinks, even — I mean, he — he believes for so long that he’s a wrestler that, actually, when Michael Cohen goes and is interviewed by the Special Counsel prosecutors, he refers to him as “the Olympian.” This is such a window into the Trump Organization’s lack of due diligence. And we’ve done so much reporting on, “How do they get these business partners that they get?” And one of the things that we learned from this Report is that, while all of these people in Russia seem to have the Trump Organization and/or Donald J. Trump for President on their radar, Michael Cohen, as the sort of front guard of Trump Organization officials in Moscow, is doing so little research that he does a misguided Google search to understand who a potential business partner might be. Now, that partnership actually goes nowhere, to be fair to Michael Cohen. But it — it comes through in so many different places in the Mueller Report where we see Trump and the people around him not inquiring about who is coming to offer them help. And it is one of the explanations for why so many of these Russians are able to get so close to people at the very top of the campaign, it seems.
MARRITZ: Now one of the things that I found actually very unsatisfying in reading this Report is we see a lot more contact between the Trump Organization and the Russians and it’s in both directions. And this really is the heart of the conflict: Trump is campaigning and he’s pursuing business opportunities in secret. And yet these flirtations with the Russians never really go anywhere. There is a mutual attraction that — it’s almost like a “Missed Connections” section, if you remember The Village Voice, when they had that. And yet they keep missing those connections. They don’t make the connection in Klokov, and in so many other cases the deal doesn’t go forward. They don’t form a partnership.
VOGELL: Yeah. I just want to point out, look. Let’s — let’s remember that, you know, Mueller didn’t interview everybody on the other side of this conversation. He had some key interviews with people on the Trump side of the conversation — somewhat limited access to Trump, obviously — and really no access, from what I could read, to most of the Russians who were on the other side of these conversations which leaves — I think — a lot of questions unanswered.
ZAVADSKI: And I think these approaches by the Russians are so important when thinking about this issue more broadly. The Mueller Report is focused on particular legal questions. But we’ve known from the very beginning that Trump campaign officials were being approached by Russians who were trying to cultivate them as sources. This has so many intelligence implications about how Trump’s business in Russia opened him up to approaches by Russian intelligence. We see this in Klokov. We see this in the fact that this is a man who tells Michael Cohen that this meeting is not about business, that “After we meet, this will go so far beyond this Trump Tower Moscow — you have no idea.” The Russians were harnessing business, which is Trump’s language, to approach him for nonbusiness means.
BERNSTEIN: I think one thing that is really striking about reading the Mueller Report is that we know that when Fusion GPS — this is an opposition research firm that was funded by Trump’s opponents — learned about possible Russian interference in the election, they went to the FBI, and the reason that they said was because they wanted to stop a crime in progress. And it is so striking the difference between that and all of the people who approached people in the Trump campaign saying they had dirt on Hillary Clinton, they had Hillary Clinton’s emails. That all of these people were saying, “The Russian government has something on your opponent,” and nowhere in 400-plus pages of the Mueller Report is there one example of anybody around Trump going to law enforcement and saying, “We think something wrong happened here,” which goes right back around to this idea of no due diligence.
MARRITZ: I mean, I think a very interesting point that you make in your Trump Tower Moscow story — which was, of course, done before this Report came out — is that Michael Cohen and the Trump Organization wanted to go to Russia to check out sites and talk to partners. To do that they needed an invitation from a Russian business, and to do that, Michael Cohen turned to one of his associates, Felix Sater. And Sater got them in touch, actually, with a bunch of sanctioned Russian banks as the potential vehicle to get that invitation that they needed.
VOGELL: Yeah. And one of those was a bank called GenBank that had a part owner named Yevgeny Dvoskin, and this was something that we uncovered in our previous reporting. He has a very interesting, colorful past, including having been born in Russia, having moved to Brighton Beach when he was young, growing up at the same time as Sater did in Brighton Beach, getting involved in his 20s in what became one of the largest and most notorious Russian mafia schemes of the time which was a gas bootlegging scheme, and he was arrested, and he was convicted. He ended up being deported from the United States. He faced securities charges and he ended up landing at this bank, GenBank. And when Sater needed to get an invitation for Trump people to come to Russia, that was the bank that he turned to. The additional information that we got in the Mueller Report was that at one point Sater was on the phone with Dvoskin figuring out how to get him passport information on Cohen and Trump so that he can issue this formal invitation to get them to Russia. And we know that Cohen ended up providing his information and that he sought Trump’s information. But Mueller said that he didn’t see any evidence that that ended up being passed on to Dvoskin.
MARRITZ: In fact, Dvoskin had Michael Cohen’s passport — a photo of it — and he potentially could have gotten the future President of the United States’ passport. And this is a guy who was expelled from the United States and who is part-owner of a sanctioned Russian bank.
VOGELL: Yes — and who has allegedly had Russian mafia ties. Just to underline all this, as the Trump Organization is pursuing this massively profitable Tower plan that they had and Trump is campaigning, the whole situation puts him into a position of seeking a favor from an adversarial foreign power at the same time as he’s seeking the presidency.
MARRITZ: So there’s the conflict we’ve been talking about. Now, cover-up: I want to read to you guys from the section of the Report that comes under the heading, “The President’s Efforts to Remove the Special Counsel.” Specifically, it’s page 290. And what Mueller does here is he paints this really vivid White House scene on the day that Mueller was appointed as Special Counsel. Here’s the quote: “Sessions stepped out of the Oval Office to take a call from Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General, who told him about the Special Counsel appointment and Sessions then returned to inform the President of the news. According to notes written by Hunt,” that’s Sessions Chief of Staff, “when Sessions told the President that a Special Counsel had been appointed, the President slumped back in his chair and said, quote, “Oh my god. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked.” What was going on here? And, specifically, do any of you guys think that the President was actually thinking about the Trump Tower Moscow deal coming to light, which he had done so much to conceal until that point?
BERNSTEIN: I think one thing was clearly going on, which is — because it’s been happening in plain sight — which is Trump has felt that the entire discussion about the Russian attacks and interference in the election undermines his legitimacy. This is someone who didn’t win the popular vote, who won by 80,000 votes in three Midwestern states. He has quite explicitly said that bringing up Russian interference suggests that he didn’t win fair and square and that this is an effort by the Democrats to claim that he didn’t actually win — he wasn’t actually the winner, that he was the loser. So the Special Counsel for him becomes assertive manifestation of those efforts to undermine him. On top of that, as we learn in the report, there are all kinds of details that he is trying to keep from the public about this very Trump Tower Moscow deal because they underline his associations with Russia and perhaps some of the reasons that we’ve been raising about the people that he was associating with. The Report doesn’t actually address that point, whether Trump was worried. And one of the — I think — unsatisfying aspects is that Trump was not interviewed, that he answered written questions in language that — the word that jumped out at me was “enthused,” which is not a word that I’ve ever heard Trump say. So it’s written in language that is — doesn’t really sound like Donald Trump. So one of the things that’s very unsatisfying is that what was pretty clearly written by lawyers has served to define Trump’s side of the narrative. So — so we don’t know exactly what he was worried about, but certainly the behavior that the Report outlines suggests that he was quite anxious about these details coming out about Trump Tower Moscow.
MARRITZ: So, during the Trump campaign, Donald Trump said he had no business in Russia. Trump is elected, Special Counsel is appointed, and then this question of his business in Russia takes on this really kind of red hot importance, like, strobing, Drudge Report-like, when Michael Cohen is rated and we got fascinating insight in this Report into not just the public posture that President Trump had around Michael Cohen but, privately, what the communications were between the two men and their representatives. Walk me through it.
BERNSTEIN: So this is eye-opening. The president said — and I’m quoting Mueller now — that he wanted to check in with Cohen and ask if Cohen was okay, and encouraged him to hang in there and stay strong. But then there are more communications. So, in the Mueller report, it says Cohen recalled that a friend of the President reached out to say he was with the boss in Mar-a-Lago, and the President has said he loves you, and not to worry. Another associate said, “The boss loves you. Everyone knows the boss has your back.” So this is what Cohen is hearing after he’s been raided.
MARRITZ: Right. While he is incredibly anxious about going to jail and the rest of his future. And yet the boss’ love does not seem to have shown itself in any lasting way, because Michael Cohen ended up pleading.
BERNSTEIN: You know we — obviously, at Trump, Inc. — have come up against a lot of non-disclosure, against secret shell companies, against disclosure forms that list LLCs but don’t list partners and investors and don’t really tell the complete information, and we don’t have Trump’s tax returns, and we don’t have basic information that we’ve had about other presidents, including things like visitor logs. So one of the things that this Report does is it really lifts the curtain on how information is retained in Trump world, and contained. There is reference to Trump and Michael Cohen discussing talking points — at one point, what they were going to say about the Trump Tower Moscow deal. There is another point where it’s hinted to Michael Cohen he shouldn’t go rogue.
There’s another point where Michael Cohen is essentially telling the Special Counsel’s Office that he’s not concerned that his false testimony is going to be contradicted because he knows the other people who know the truth are not going to say anything that everybody is hanging together in this tight mass.
VOGELL: So it seems that Cohen at one point — even when he was still right in the heat of this alliance with President Trump on all of these matters, that he was trying to be truthful and make at least a mild reference to the fact that he’d had contacts with Russian government officials. He, in fact, included in his original statement a sentence saying that, that “the building project led me to make limited contacts with the Russian government officials.” But that statement — it was lawyered — and not just by his lawyer, but by the President’s lawyer, and by other lawyers. And that statement ended up getting dropped and Cohen decided not to push back on the deletion.
MARRITZ: This was his statement to Congress?
MARRITZ: It’s so striking because Cohen showed his loyalty in that moment. And yet this attempt to have each other’s back fell apart and Michael Cohen’s going into jail, and Donald Trump is not being charged with a cover up here.
BERNSTEIN: I mean, I think it’s a little unclear about what happened there. Obviously, the Special Counsel’s office was putting the lean on Cohen during this period. There was also an observation that Trump started to talk about Cohen in the past tense — “somebody that he liked,” instead of “somebody that he likes.” And there was this sort of turning-point interview which is cited in the Report where he sits down with ABC and he says, “Well, I’m putting my country and my family first.” And that’s the point at which Trump starts to call him a rat and threaten his family and do all kinds of things which Mueller does say in his Report could be construed as trying to impede justice and trying to dissuade other witnesses from coming forward. So a lot has been said — and going to be said — about “does not exonerate Trump,” but this is definitely one of the areas where Trump very clearly and in public view was threatening a witness who may or may not have been giving information against him in a prosecution, in an ongoing prosecution. I mean, that was happening — we all saw that.
MARRITZ: So Robert Mueller never did get to interview President Trump. But Trump and his lawyers did provide prepared written answers to Robert Mueller’s questions. Katie, how did Trump explain Trump Tower Moscow?
ZAVADSKI: Yeah. The written responses were a lot of legal-ese, and a lot of “I do not recall”s. And when asked about his business deals in Russia, Donald Trump said, “As I recall, neither I nor the Trump Organization had any projects or proposed projects in Russia during the campaign, other than the letter of intent,” which, of course, is the whole point. It is a billion-dollar deal that requires the blessing of Vladimir Putin and the mayor of Moscow and essentially the support of a hostile foreign power. And here is Donald Trump saying, “Don’t worry. Don’t worry. I had no deals in Russia, other than this major thing I’ve been trying to do for basically my entire adult life.”
MARRITZ: Since the late ‘80s! And yet Trump really distances himself from what would normally be, I think, a very appealing deal for him. He writes, “Sometime in 2015, Michael Cohen suggested to me the possibility of a Trump Organization Project in Moscow.” And he talks about vaguely sort of about the terms of the deal. “It required no equity or expenditure on our end. I had a few conversations with Mr. Cohen on this subject. As I recall, they were brief and they were not memorable. I was not enthused about the proposal.”
BERNSTEIN: I think what is so interesting about that is the timing. So, that statement was given to Mueller on November 20th, 2018. Just over a week later, Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress. So, at the time Trump was submitting his answers to Mueller, he did not know what Michael Cohen was going to say, and there is a description in the Report of some anxiety on Trump’s part about that. Mueller goes back to Donald Trump, after Cohen’s guilty plea, and ask them additional information. And Trump’s lawyers refuse to give it to Mueller. They do the same thing which they’ve done with us, which is, they say, “We’ve answered enough. We’re not answering any further.” And it is one of the ways in which Donald Trump succeeded in blocking the flow of information in a way that does give us an incomplete picture of what happened here.
MARRITZ: So, guys, we knew a bunch of stuff about Trump Tower Moscow. Now we know a bunch more. What are the questions that you still have. Heather?
VOGELL: Can I have two?
MARRITZ: Of course.
VOGELL: One is what about the penthouse. We had learned before that Cohen and Felix Sater were talking about offering Putin a penthouse in the Moscow Trump Tower, sort of as a marketing plan to try to lure other oligarchs the tower. There’s no mention of that here.
MARRITZ: Huh. No, not at all?
VOGELL: No, not that I found.
So here’s the other one now. This one is a little more complicated. So what we’ve learned about the Trump Tower Moscow deal — how it was started, how it unfolded, what else was going on at that time — from Mueller, it raises some more questions that we hadn’t really been focused on before, and those questions are basically centering around whether this effort was part of the Russian government’s approach to Trump and his advisers at the time.
There’s a few things that would point to that being a possibility, and one is that we now know that Felix Sater brought Rozov and the Rozov proposal to Cohen. It didn’t happen the other way. This wasn’t Cohen going out there and contacting the people he knew that were involved in the development business and had Russian contacts.
You know, another piece of information that was interesting was just looking at how lucrative this deal was. It was really a situation where Sater and Rosov were dangling an incredibly, incredibly lucrative deal in front of Trump. Kind of one that he couldn’t refuse, almost. It sort of blew the other ones out of the water.
And then third — the other piece of information I find that was helpful from the Mueller Report was the way he laid out the approaches that other people connected to the Russian government made to Trump, at the same time that Sater and Rozov were also making overtures to Trump.
And when you look at that and you can see that all of these people — these three people, and Sater, so four of them — they were all claiming to have a connection to Putin. They were all seeking meetings with Trump and/or his advisers on Russian soil, and they were promising both help with the business plan and help with the campaign.
So we reached out to Sater to see if he could clarify any of this for us, and he declined to comment for this podcast.
MARRITZ: Yeah. And, of course, Robert Mueller had oversight of the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation, but he has nothing to say about that in this report.
VOGELL: Well, what I’m hearing is that there’s some confusion and a feeling of sort of a desire for more information. I suspect we’ll be hearing more from Congress about this or that they’ll be, you know, pursuing their own leads about this in upcoming weeks.
MARRITZ: Okay, so that’s a lot of unanswered questions from you, Heather. Andrea, your unanswered questions?
BERNSTEIN: I think that there’s still a great deal that we do not know about the Trump Organization. It’s unclear if anybody other than Michael Cohen from the Trump Organization spoke to Robert Mueller’s prosecutors. And we did not see Donald Trump’s tax returns. So there’s still an awful lot we don’t understand about his business dealings and the way that his past business dealings may or may not be influencing current U.S. policy.
MARRITZ: In fact, we know that Trump was concerned that Mueller was going to take a careful look at his business. It appears from my first reading of this Report that Mueller took a very circumscribed view of the Trump Organization and really only looked at the pieces that appeared likely or possible to touch this Russian election interference.
BERNSTEIN: Right, I mean, not his business in general — although this very large business deal in particular — and it’s unclear if whether, when Trump was signaling, “Don’t look at my business,” he was saying, “Don’t look at this business deal,” or “Don’t look at my whole business.” I think that is one of the mysteries that’s going to stay with us.
ZAVADSKI: Well, one of the striking things about the Mueller team is that they have been very generous about sharing what they find in the form of criminal referrals to other U.S. Attorney’s offices. So, if they come across something that might be a criminal matter but does not fall directly within the scope of the Mueller probe, they can refer it out. And at the very end of this report, we see a couple of pages with redacted names of potential maybe-criminal cases, and the redactions say that revealing it would be potentially “harm to an ongoing matter.” So what we have is maybe a dozen — maybe more — potential criminal probes that will stem from Mueller’s findings, but won’t be prosecuted necessarily by his office.
MARRITZ: And, to be clear, Michael Cohen was a referral. The Southern District of New York took that up, not the Special Counsel.
ZAVADSKI: Yes. Because that case was about the hush money payment that was effectively an illegal campaign contribution and not directly tied to this investigation. So we might see other prosecutions that are adjacent to the Mueller probe but not directly involved in it.
MARRITZ: In fact, there’s huge redacted sections. Sometimes it’s just a word or a line here or there. Sometimes it goes on for several paragraphs.
ZAVADSKI: Entire pages.
MARRITZ: And the reason given is “H.O.M.” — “harm to an ongoing matter” — new term for me. Thanks, guys.
VOGELL: Thank you.
ZAVADSKI: Thanks, Ilya.
BERNSTEIN: Thank you!
[THE PRELUDE TO THE CREDITS MUSIC BEGINS]
MARRITZ: As of this recording, the Mueller Report was released yesterday.
448 pages, dense with facts and footnotes, sparking questions that we will continue to explore on this podcast for a long time.
One note: Donald Trump’s attorneys did not address the Trump Tower Moscow, but they did release this response to the Mueller report. Quote, “The results of the investigation are a total victory for the President. The Report underscores what we have argued from the very beginning — there was no collusion — there was no obstruction … it is clear there was no criminal wrongdoing.”
[CREDITS MUSIC PLAYS]
MARRITZ: Trump, Inc. is produced by Meg Cramer. Alice Wilder and Katherine Sullivan are the associate producers. The technical director is Bill Moss. Editing by Charlie Herman, Eric Umansky, and Nick Varchaver. Katie Zavadski is ProPublica’s Research Director.
Robin Fields is ProPublica’s Managing Editor. Jim Schachter is the Vice President for News at WNYC, and Steve Engelberg is the Editor-in-Chief at ProPublica.
Original music composed by Hannis Brown.
New York Public Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline, often by contractors. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of New York Public Radio’s programming is the audio record.