Trump Transition Team Told to Hold On to Any Russia Stuff

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Paul Manafort. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Just in case they were thinking of embarking on any big cleaning projects, the people who worked on President Trump’s transition have been ordered to save all materials that might have to do with “several pending investigations into potential attempts by Russia interests to influence the 2016 election,” according to a memo obtained by Politico and the New York Times. Those materials include anything involving Russia, Ukraine, and foreign travel; very sketchy onetime campaign manager Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates; also sketchy former campaign adviser Carter Page; ousted national security advisor Mike Flynn; and style star Roger Stone.

The memo, which came from a law firm representing the transition team, seemed to confirm that the men are of serious interest to those conducting the congressional and Justice Department investigations into the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia. Letter recipients were told that they “have a duty to preserve” potentially relevant “emails, voicemails, text messages, instant messages, social media posts, Word or WordPerfect documents, spreadsheets, databases, telephone logs, audio recordings, videos, photographs or images, information contained on desktops, laptops, tablet computers, smartphones or other portable devices, calendar records and diary data.”

“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 continued. “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 instructions came just as Vice-President Mike Pence hired a lawyer to help him navigate the Russia inquiries.

Trump Transition Team Told to Preserve Russia-Related Stuff