Sen. Chuck Grassley accused the special counsel’s office of mischaracterizing Trump campaign emails to fed “speculation and innuendo” about Russian collusion in a letter from 2017.
In the letter sent to Mueller on Oct. 16, 2017, Grassley was responding to a “statement of offense” released in the case against George Papadopoulos.
Grassley wrote, “It should be the goal of anyone interested in an accurate portrayal of the facts for the American people to correct the erroneous reporting.”
Prosecutors of the special council quoted from several emails, out of context, to suggest top Trump campaign officials were eager to meet with Russians.
However, Grassley asserted that the full emails showed that campaign officials rejected meeting with Russians.
The Daily Caller reported
In the letter to Mueller, Grassley pointed to two sections of the Papadopoulos “statement of offense” that quoted from emails sent on May 4, 2016 and Aug. 15, 2016.
In the May 4 email, Papadopoulos wrote to others on the Trump campaign that Russia “has been eager to meet Mr. Trump for quite sometime and have been reaching out to me to discuss.”
Mueller’s team quoted from an email response from Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who wrote: “We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips. It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.”
Numerous news outlets reported that the passage showed that Manafort wanted a low-level campaign adviser to meet with Russians. But Grassley said that other emails sent by Manafort’s deputy, Rick Gates, show that he was asserting that a low-level adviser should be the person to reject requests to meet with Russians.
“Agree. What if I get our correspondence coordinator to do it. This is the person responding to all mail of non-importance. It would be a general letter,” Gates wrote.
Manafort replied: “good.”
Grassley also faulted Mueller’s team for misrepresenting email exchanges involving Sam Clovis, another Trump campaign official.
The statement of offense quoted from an Aug. 15, 2016 email in which a campaign supervisor, later identified as Clovis, told Papadopoulos that “I would encourage you” to “make the trip, if it is feasible.”
But Grassley said the rest of the email makes clear that Papadopoulos asked Clovis to join him on conversations with representatives from several foreign governments, including “the UK, Greek, Italian and even Russian government.”
Clovis declined the invitation and wrote in other emails that any potential meetings with Russians would have to follow meetings first with Western allies.
“My thought is that we probably should not go forward with any meetings with the Russians until we have had occasion to sit with our NATO allies, especially France, Germany and Great Britain,” wrote Clovis. “We need to reassure our allies that we are not going to advance anything with Russia until we have everyone on the same page.”
Grassley also suggested that Mueller’s inaccurate statement led Clovis to withdraw his name from consideration to a top Department of Agriculture post.
Grassley also rebuked Mueller’s team for failing to correct news reports that cited the Papadopoulos court filings as evidence of possible collusion with Russia.
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