The consensus of opinion of a number of pundits is that Mueller already knows the answer to the question he wants to put to Trump — and which relates to whether Trump’s campaign “initiated, rather than merely accepted, contact with President Vladimir Putin’s regime” and whether Trump himself was also involved.
Despite President Donald Trump’s insistence to the contrary Tuesday, potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia is, indeed, a focus of four dozen questions special counsel Robert Mueller reportedly submitted to Trump’s legal team.
One question in particular is raising new concerns about whether Trump’s campaign actively sought help from Moscow — and highlights campaign chief Paul Manafort in the process.
“What knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign, including by Paul Manafort, to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign?” the question asks. […]
Prior media reports have documented attempts from Russian sources to reach out to Trump’s campaign. Most notably, Trump campaign officials, including Manafort and Donald Trump Jr., met Kremlin-connected lawyers in a now-infamous June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower. The Russians had promised damaging information on Trump’s political opponent, Hillary Clinton.
But the question about campaign outreach to Russia flips the script, giving a new thrust to the much-debated possibility that Trump’s campaign may have initiated, rather than merely accepted, contact with President Vladimir Putin’s regime. […]
While Trump said the “phony crime” of collusion “never existed,” David Shapiro, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said that lawyers generally stick to the “rule of thumb” of “never ask a question unless you already know the answer.”