New Mueller documents link Russia probe and impeachment inquiry
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
What's new: Digital news platform BuzzFeed successfully sued for the documents. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort suggested in 2016 that Ukraine could have been responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee instead of Russia, the newly released internal memos show.
The backdrop: In their July 25 phone call, Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky "to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine. They say Crowdstrike..." The whistleblower accused Trump, in that call, of trying to "pressure the Ukrainian leader to take actions to help the president's 2020 reelection bid" by investigating Joe and Hunter Biden in exchange for military aid.
- In the call, which is now at the center of the impeachment inquiry, the president appeared to subscribe to a right-wing conspiracy theory that Crowdstrike, the U.S.-owned firm hired by the DNC to investigate hackers responsible for the 2016 breach, is owned by Ukraine.
- Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney walked back his comments in October about the Trump administration freezing military aid as leverage to get Ukraine to investigate that conspiracy theory.
What else: According to the new memos, former Trump deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates told the FBI he believed the president and others may have known ahead of time about WikiLeaks’ plans to release DNC emails allegedly stolen by Russia, per the Post.