Trump Transition Team Warned Not to Destroy Evidence Related to Michael Flynn and Russia Probe
The Trump transition team has been ordered to preserve documents and other evidence related to Mike Flynn and other campaign advisers targeted by the federal probe of Russian interference in the presidential election.
The transition team’s general counsel issued the memo to members who helped set up the Trump administration between the election and inauguration, and it indicates how broad special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe has grown, reported the New York Times.
Former transition team members “have a duty to preserve any physical and electronic records that may be related in any way to the subject matter of the pending investigations,” the memo warns.
The memo was issued the same day new reports revealed Vice President Mike Pence, who led the transition, had hired outside counsel to represent him in the various investigations.
The preservation order covers any transition team information about Russia or Ukraine, and it also seeks any records of background investigations of former national security adviser Flynn, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, his business partner Rick Gates, former foreign policy adviser Carter Page and informal campaign adviser Roger Stone Jr.
All of those campaign advisers had been previously linked to FBI or congressional investigations of possible collusion with Russia, but Gates had not.
Gates told the Times he had not yet been contacted by any law enforcement organization in connection with the Russia probe.
The memo also orders transition team members to preserve any records of foreign travel by transition officials or Trump campaign officials.
“With this in mind, please immediately suspend any deletion, modification, overwriting, or other possible destruction of the information described above, including electronic information, and take all reasonable measures to preserve this information,” the memo warns.
The memo directs recipients to turn over all relevant documents to transition team officials.
Lawyers often send these types of notices after receiving a preservation order from the Justice Department or in anticipation of such an order, the newspaper reported.
“Failure to follow these protocols could result in criminal or civil penalties, and could form the basis of legal claims, legal presumptions, or jury instructions relating to spoliation of evidence,” the memo warns.