The walls are closing in around Trump and his campaign as the Russia investigation marches on.

 

Background: 

Last campaign cycle, Russian operatives from high up in the government attempted to influence the 2016 election through hacking and fake news. Those involved favored Trump for president.

Since that confirmation, the FBI, led by special counsel Robert Mueller (since the former FBI director James Comey was fired by President Trump) has been investigating the matter.

While before being fired Comey assured Trump he was not under investigation, Mueller has made it clear he is investigating both Russian interference and possible coordination with the Trump campaign. He is also investigating whether Trump firing Comey constitutes obstruction of justice, since Trump admitted the Russia investigation influenced his decision.

Several people close to Trump, including former national security advisor Michael Flynn and Trump’s own son, have been connected to suspicious members in Russia.

 

What’s Happening Now: 

Ignoring Trump’s claims that the Russia investigation is a waste of time, Mueller is pulling out all the stops, and he just interviewed a star witness.

Business Insider reported that a cybersecurity researcher claimed he was recruited by a GOP operative close to the Trump campaign to vet some of Clinton’s emails. But that’s not all: Mueller just interviewed that researcher as part of his investigation a few weeks ago.

The researcher is Matt Tait, who used to work as an information-security specialist at Britain’s Government Communication Headquarters.

Tait said he was hired to try and find the emails Clinton deleted from her private server, which the operative, Peter Smith, believed had been stolen by the Russians.

Tait has written all about his experience on Lawfare, a national-security blog.

According to Tait, Smith seemed unbothered by the fact that in order to access Clinton’s emails, one would have to interact with Russian operatives. Tait said Smith didn’t seem to care where the emails were coming from as long as he got them.

Tait said Smith also wanted him to authenticate emails he already had, which he said he got from corners of the dark web.

Tait ended up accepting the request to further look into the situation, and determine whether what was happening was a prank or a serious operation. He said Smith appeared to have close relationships with both the Trump campaign and Michael Flynn. Smith had recruited several top Trump aides like Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon to do research on Clinton.

All of which implies that the sketchy job Tait was hired to do – access documents stolen by a foreign government in order to take down a political opponent – was done with the Trump campaign’s knowledge and enthusiastic support.

Smith committed suicide in May after talking to the Washington Post about his experience during the campaign season.

The interview was part of Mueller’s larger investigation into Smith and Flynn and whether Flynn tried to access Clinton’s stolen emails.

If those hired by outside of Trump’s inner circle keep talking, Mueller won’t have to look much further before he has the entire campaign locked up.

The investigation continues, all while Trump tries desperately to shut it all up.

 

H/T: Business Insider