Robert Mueller probed a 'member of the news media' while investigating Russia hacking conspiracy: report

Robert Mueller probed a 'member of the news media' while investigating Russia hacking conspiracy: report
Robert Mueller in 2012, Wikimedia Commons

More than two years after the release of the Mueller Report, new details continue to emerge about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election — and on Wednesday, September 1, according to the New York Times, the U.S. Department of Justice revealed that former Special Counsel Robert Mueller had probed "a member of the news media suspected of participating in the conspiracy" to hack Democratic e-mails and publish them online.

Times journalists Charlie Savage and Adam Goldman report, "The deputy attorney general at the time, Rod J. Rosenstein, who was overseeing the Russia investigation, approved a subpoena, in 2018, for the unnamed person's phone and e-mail records. He also approved seeking a voluntary interview with that person and then issuing a subpoena to force the person to testify before a grand jury, the department said."

Savage and Goldman note, however, that the DOJ's "disclosure" on September 1 "left many questions unanswered."

"It did not say why the person was suspected of participating in a conspiracy to interfere with the 2016 election, or whether that person ever testified before a grand jury," Savage and Goldman explain. "Nor did it define 'member of the news media' to clarify whether that narrowly meant a traditional journalist or could broadly extend to various types of commentators on current events."

The Times reporters note that federal prosecutors "ultimately did not call that person to testify at the trial."

According to Savage and Goldman, "The report did not say whether any subpoena was issued, or whether obtaining one was merely approved. Nor did it say what the person would have testified about."

After stealing thousands of e-mails from the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 presidential race, Russian hackers passed them along to Julian Assange's WikiLeaks website — which published them online. And when Mueller led the Russia investigation in 2017 and 2018, he tried to determine what allies and supporters of then-President Donald Trump knew about the hacking. One of those allies was veteran GOP operative Roger Stone.

Savage and Goldman note, "Mr. Stone was charged, among other things, with obstructing one of Congress' Russia investigations. He was convicted, but then pardoned by Mr. Trump."

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