Jayapal questions Mueller on whether Trump statements on Manafort were witness tampering

Jayapal questions Mueller on whether Trump statements on Manafort were witness tampering
© Aaron Schwartz

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) questioned former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony Kellyanne Conway: 'I'd like to know' if Mueller read his own report MORE Wednesday about statements in which she said President TrumpDonald John TrumpO'Rourke: Trump driving global, U.S. economy into recession Manchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms Objections to Trump's new immigration rule wildly exaggerated MORE discouraged his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort from cooperating with investigators and whether it rose to the level of witness tampering.

Jayapal asked Mueller to define “flipping” as Trump used the term in several tweets. Mueller responded that flipping is “[to] have somebody cooperate in a criminal investigation,” but declined to answer a broader question about how essential the practice was to law enforcement.


Trump had sharply criticized the practice, saying it should almost be illegal, while praising those who show “loyalty.”

Jayapal went on to cite passages in Mueller’s report describing how Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani suggested a pardon for Manafort was a possibility, as well as statements from Trump to the press calling Manafort “very brave” for not cooperating with the investigation.



In the report, Jayapal told Mueller, “You make a very serious conclusion about the president’s involvement with the Manafort criminal proceedings,” projecting a quote from the report saying that evidence showed Trump’s conduct “indicates that the president intended to encourage Manafort to not cooperate with the government.”

“When someone tries to stop another person from cooperating with law enforcement and they do it because they are worried about what they might say, it seems clear that this is a classic definition of witness tampering,” Jayapal added.