Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian contacts with President Trump's campaign has accessed thousands of his transition team's emails, according to several sources. But the investigators did not directly request the records from Trump's still-existing transition group, Trump for America, and instead obtained them from the General Services Administration, a separate federal agency that stored the material—prompting transition group general counsel Kory Langhofer to complain the move was "unauthorized" release of non-government material, reports the Washington Post. The tens of thousands of emails pertain to 13 senior Trump transition officials, including former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, reports the AP; many include national security discussions about possible Trump international aims as well as candid assessments of candidates for top posts.
Langhofer said that a GSA official appointed by Trump in May had assured the transition in June that any request for records from Mueller's office would be referred to the transition's attorneys. According to Langhofer, the assurance was made by then-GSA General Counsel Richard Beckler, who was hospitalized in August and has since died. But late Saturday, GSA Deputy Counsel Lenny Loewentritt, who was present for the conversation, told Buzzfeed that there was nothing improper about the disclosure of the emails. Loewentritt said the transition was informed that by using government devices, the GSA wouldn't hold back records from law enforcement. Transition officials signed agreements that warn them that materials kept on government servers are subject to monitoring, and there's no expectation of privacy. Late Saturday, a Mueller rep said that "when we have obtained emails ... we have secured either the account owner's consent or appropriate criminal process."