CLEVELAND — The very roots of the Mueller Report can be traced in a sense to Cleveland. Special Counsel Robert Mueller was hired to take over the Russia investigation after the recusal of then U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions who stepped aside in part because of a meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the Republican National Convention in 2016.
Kislyak had brief encounters in Cleveland during the convention with a number of members of President Trumps team including J.D. Gordon, according to the Mueller report. Gordon was then a senior campaign adviser on policy and national security.
While the report didn't think anything came out of that particular meeting, it was of note because the report claims Gordon sought to dilute a proposed plank in the party platform that was being put together the week before the RNC at the Huntington Convention Center. The plank had to do with the party's position dealing with Russian aggression in Ukraine.
The author of the plank told investigators that Gordon told her he was on the phone with Trump and he wanted her to soften the position. She refused but the plank was eventually changed to more Russia friendly language, though the presidents team denied any involvement and Mueller found no collusion.
Leading up to the convention, then Campaign Manager and later Mueller target Paul Manafort, was a regular in Cleveland accompanied by his business partner and Trump Campaign Deputy Rick Gates. Gates would later be convicted of lying to Federal investigators and serve as their star witness against Manafort.
Also seen around town in those days leading up to the convention was future White House Counsel Don McGahn who would later tell Mueller that President Trump wanted him to fire the special counsel, and then when the story was reported asked McGahn to deny it to the media which he refused to do.