CNN reported Friday night that a federal grand jury has formally approved the first round of criminal charges in the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller.
It is still unclear what the exact nature of the charges are, as they remain sealed under orders from a federal judge. According to “sources briefed on the matter”, anyone charged faces incarceration on Monday.
The Mueller team’s information lockdown has been total. This is coming out because he wants it to.
The DC federal court in which the grand jury meets to hear testimony in the Russia investigation was host to Andrew Weissmann and other top lawyers who are helping to lead the Mueller probe.
Reporters present saw a flurry of activity in the grand jury room, but officials made no announcements.
Regardless of who they indict, this is a move guaranteed to send shockwaves throughout the Trump administration and the nation’s capital.
Until now, the Russia investigation has certainly cast its shadow over Trump’s mutated presidency, but the danger has been theoretical. A federal indictment of anyone connected to the Trump campaign or the White House will turn that theoretical danger into hard reality.
The GOP has been up to something all week. Intensifying conservative criticism of Mueller’s probe managed to dominate the headlines for a few days. Trump-aligned media figures latched onto a CNN report that Clinton campaign officials had funded the creation of the Steele dossier, in a transparent attempt to discredit the overall Russia investigation.
Mueller is authorized to investigate “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation, according to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s order. That includes scrutinizing Trump and his associates’ financial ties to Russia.
This has had Trump making all sorts of noise earlier this week attempting to frame the old news regarding the Democratic funding of the latter half of the Steele dossier as a breaking scandal.
It seemed like a reach even for the Republicans, and the Millennial Democrats team felt it was nothing but a cheap and obvious distraction. It’s like their recent attempted revival of the uranium scandal that never was. Or the House decision to have one last dance with Hillary Clinton’s old emails.
With so many actors involved in the crimes, it’s impossible to know who exactly might be facing federal authorities on Monday, but the name of Paul Manafort, at the very least, seems like a shoo-in. The New York Times reported in September that Manafort was informed of his impending indictment in August, during an early-morning raid at his Virginia home.
Last year, the FBI ran an investigation monitoring the communications of Manafort, as well as former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, as part of the investigation into Russian meddling. Earlier this month Page invoked the Fifth Amendment, refusing to speak to the Senate Intelligence committee
Then-director James Comey had his employment terminated for his failure to help Trump cover it up. Trump denied this at first but later admitted it openly against the advice of his attorneys.
POLITICO has learned that last week, the realtor who helped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort buy the Alexandria, Virginia condo that was recently raided by the FBI testified before the federal grand jury in the matter of Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
Mueller’s team has also examined foreign lobbying conducted by Manafort’s old partner Roger Stone, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and others.
His team has issued subpoenas for documents and testimony to a number of others involved in the now-infamous Trump Tower meeting between Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Donald Trump Jr and other officials from the Trump campaign.
It also came out on Friday that Veselnitskaya shared the information, information she thought would be disparaging to then-candidate Hillary Clinton, she was going to give the campaign with the Kremlin first. This runs in direct contradiction to statements she herself has made. In the past, she has stated she was working alone and without state sanction.
Three committees on Capitol Hill are conducting their own investigations, independently of Mueller’s probe. The competitive atmosphere is a given.
We wish also to extend our thanks to Robert Mueller. He looked tired and sad today. It’s got to be heartbreaking, having to watch a thing like this take place after a lifetime of good service. It should never be forgotten that he came out of retirement for reasons of sincere patriotism.
The struggles ahead are going to register as the greatest legal showdown ever to touch a courtroom. The best America has to offer will be squaring off against Donald Trump, whose billions will undoubtedly raise a defensive army to dwarf even O.J. Simpson’s Dream Team.
We have reached a major turning point. The end of the beginning has come.
Trump is said to have become unhinged today upon learning of the imminent nature of the charges. If that is any indication, the beginning of the end has come as well.
It’s important to place the correct median of emphasis on the significance of this event. This is fantastic news, but it won’t end the case by this year. A great deal of patience will still be called for.
Sooner or later, this will burn Donald Trump and the Republicans down to the ground. In the meantime, we’ve got to start preparing for the midterms. Robert Mueller has performed a great service for the people of this nation, and he’s got his work cut out for him going forward. So do we.