The Justice Department on Friday released a new tranche of documents from witness interviews from 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 Russia investigation.
The documents, obtained by CNN as part of a joint lawsuit with BuzzFeed News, were compiled by FBI agents or prosecutors after they questioned each witness.
However, despite a court order, the outlet said the Department of Justice (DOJ) withheld memos related to interviews Mueller’s team conducted with Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerHillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Hackers are making big money Kushner associate pardoned by Trump in plea discussions over cyberstalking charges Biden has an opportunity to put his own stamp on Arab-Israeli relations MORE, the president’s son-in-law and a White House senior staffer.
Among the witness interviews included in the release are those conducted with Russian oligarch Petr Aven, former Trump campaign aides George PapadopoulosGeorge Demetrios PapadopoulosTrump supporters show up to DC for election protest Trump pardons draw criticism for benefiting political allies Klobuchar: Trump 'trying to burn this country down on his way out' MORE and Carter Page, and 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.
The memo from the interview with Aven, who is known to have close ties with Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinEquilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Altria — Hot mic catches Queen criticizing 'irritating' climate inaction Putin directs sexist remark at US anchor Navalny, Afghan women among those under consideration for EU human rights prize MORE, showed the two discussed U.S. sanctions and the prospect of engaging with members of the Trump transition team to ameliorate relations between Moscow and Washington and end the sanctions.
Papadopoulos, who has faced legal scrutiny over his dealings with Russia, told investigators that former Trump campaign national co-chairman Sam Clovis told him Russia would be important to the campaign.
"Papadopoulos recalled the topic of Russia came up during his phone call with Clovis, in the context that Clovis had mentioned that Russia would be a very important aspect of the Trump campaign," investigators wrote in 2017. The surrounding sentences of the quote are redacted.
Of all the memos released, those from Page shine the brightest light into the investigation. The former campaign aide met with agents several times without an attorney present and prepared presentations for them.
Among other things, agents discussed with Page how Russia may have been molding him to become a witting or unwitting informant for Moscow’s intelligence agents, an effort that may have been ramped up when he joined the campaign.
"PAGE referenced himself being 'on the books' of Russian Intelligence Services," an FBI agent wrote. Page later added that "he is probably the highest level contact" for the Russians.
Page also “suspected” Manafort of being responsible for a controversial change to the Republican Party platform during the 2016 convention that blocked a provision calling for the providing of lethal weapons to Ukraine to help defend against Russian aggression.
A redacted copy of an October 2016 arrest warrant for page showed that FBI officials believed him to be “the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government.”
The Justice Department has released two prior tranches of documents from the Mueller probe. The investigation closed last year, finding insufficient evidence of a conspiracy by the Trump campaign to collude with Russia in 2016 but declining to make a prosecutorial decision as to whether the president obstructed justice by trying to hinder subsequent probes into collusion.