DOJ releases hundreds of pages of memos from Mueller probe

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Saturday released a collection of documents related to former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible obstruction of justice by President TrumpDonald TrumpCheney says a lot of GOP lawmakers have privately encouraged her fight against Trump Republicans criticizing Afghan refugees face risks DeVos says 'principles have been overtaken by personalities' in GOP MORE

The records include revelations about a host of figures close to President Trump's campaign, including former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortDOJ investigating one-time Trump campaign adviser over alleged ties to Qatar: report Foreign lobbyists donated over M during 2020 election: report Former Mueller prosecutor representing Donoghue in congressional probes: report MORE and Trump's former attorney, Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenTrump Organization faces new scrutiny in New York civil probe Michael Cohen: Trump bluffing about another White House bid Eric Trump lawyer in New York attorney general's fraud case quits MORE

The public disclosure came in response to five separate Freedom of Information Act lawsuits filed by BuzzFeed News in an attempt to gain access to the primary source documents Mueller's investigative team accumulated over the course of its probe, the news outlet reported

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BuzzFeed News said its lawsuits requested subpoenas and search warrants Mueller's team issued in addition to any emails, memos, letters, talking points, legal opinions and interview transcripts it created. The DOJ had reportedly pushed back against the request, saying that the records being sought could total 18 billion pages. 

But U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton said the department should ask Congress for assistance if it couldn't handle the task of releasing the requested documents. 

The first batch includes 500 pages of summaries of FBI interviews with witnesses, according to summaries and documents shared by BuzzFeed News. The news outlet said new records will be released every month for the next eight years.

The summaries include significant information regarding Mueller's investigation and witnesses his unit interviewed over the course of the investigation. For example, Rick GatesRick GatesTreasury: Manafort associate passed 'sensitive' campaign data to Russian intelligence Trump Jr. was deposed in inauguration funds probe Trump's pardons harshly criticized by legal experts MORE, who had served as Trump's deputy campaign chairman, told investigators in April 2018 that Manafort pushed a conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, initiated the hack of the Democratic National Committee.

Trump appeared to address that theory during a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that is now at the center of a House impeachment inquiry. Tom Bossert, who served in the administration between 2017 and 2018, said in September that he once told Trump that the claim is a "completely debunked" conspiracy theory. 

The documents also include former White House chief strategist and Trump campaign aide Steve BannonStephen (Steve) Kevin BannonExecutive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump Biden does not plan to shield Trump docs in Jan. 6 probe Jan. 6 panel subpoenas four ex-Trump aides Bannon, Meadows MORE's emails regarding Manafort. According to BuzzFeed News, the former Trump aide's emails show that Manafort was advising the Trump campaign just days before the election, despite being fired in August. 

The records reveal that Manafort emailed White House senior adviser and Trump's son-in-law Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerHouse panel tees up Trump executive privilege fight in Jan. 6 probe The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - US prepares vaccine booster plan House panel probing Jan. 6 attack seeks Trump records MORE ahead of the 2016 election to express his optimism about Trump's chances. After Kushner forwarded the email to Bannon, Bannon replied, “We need to avoid this guy like the plague."

“Paul is nice guy [sic] but we can’t let word get out he is advising us," he said in an email on Nov. 5, 2016, according to BuzzFeed News. "They are going to try to say the Russians worked with wiki leaks [sic] to give this victory to us.” 

The DOJ in April released a redacted version of Mueller's 448-page report on Russian interference and possible obstruction of justice. Mueller did not establish that there was a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Moscow to influence the 2016 election.

However, the report noted that the former special counsel was unable to “conclusively determine” that no criminal conduct occurred with regard to obstruction of justice.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill. 

UPDATED 2:18 p.m.