It was learned last week that special counsel in charge of the Russia investigation, Robert Mueller, has focused on events that took place on Air Force One as the president and his team were returning from Germany after a meeting of the G-20 last July.
Before leaving Germany, the president and his team were approached by The New York Times with questions about a meeting that took place between senior members of his campaign and Russian individuals in June of 2016.
The meeting, the Trump campaign contended, was about a popular Russian adoption program. Subsequent revelations however would show that the meeting was offered, and accepted, on the promise that the Russian government could give the Trump campaign incriminating information on Hillary Clinton as part of its efforts to help Donald Trump win the election.
It has been reported that the president was directly involved in the crafting of the responses, although it is unclear how much the president knew about the true purpose of the meeting. A spokesman for President Trump’s legal team at the time, disagreed with the response, arguing that it was only a matter of time before emails showing the true nature of the meeting were publicized.
A close, long-time aide to the president, Hope Hicks, reportedly told that spokesman, Mark Corallo, that those emails would “never get out,” implying they could be withheld from investigators. That conversation, according to Corallo, took place aboard Air Force One as the White House team was on its way back from Germany. It took place also, in front of the president and with no lawyer present, so that it could not be protected by attorney-client privilege.
Corallo resigned his position shortly after the incident. He reportedly felt that the events likely constituted obstruction of justice.
A lawyer for Hicks vigorously denies Corallo’s account. “As most reporters know, it’s not my practice to comment in response to questions from the media. But this warrants a response,” said Robert P. Trout, Hicks’ lawyer. “She never said that. And the idea that Hope Hicks ever suggested that emails or other documents would be concealed or destroyed is completely false.”
Corallo has reportedly been called in for an interview with Mueller and his team and has agreed to one.
Mueller’s team has reportedly recently notified the president’s lawyers that the Air Force One episode is one of about a dozen subjects that they want to discuss with the president in a face-to-face interview, the terms of which are still being negotiated.