The Special Council investigation led by James Comey friend and ally and former FBI head Robert Mueller has been in search of a crime since its questionable inception. In fact, so intent is he on digging up some kind of crime, any kind, that he’s amassed a legal team that rivals in size the entire U. S. Attorneys Office for the state of Rhode Island. Courtesy of your tax dollars.
Reports suggest that he’s bagging his first head on Monday. Reports do not, however, state who will be arrested or on what charges.
A federal grand jury in Washington has approved the first criminal charges in the special counsel’s investigation into Russian election interference, two sources told NBC News, marking a significant milestone in an inquiry that has roiled Donald Trump’s presidency.
Mueller’s Special Counsel’s Office will make public an indictment on Monday, a U.S. official with firsthand knowledge of the process confirmed to NBC News, without disclosing the name of the target or the nature of the charges. The timing was confirmed by a second source familiar with the matter.
CNN was the first to report on Friday that the grand jury approved charges, citing multiple sources. The network added that the charges remain sealed by order of a federal judge.
Sealing indictments is not uncommon at this stage, but as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) notes, “if you’re the person, you know.”
Whoever is targeted in the first charges sought by the special counsel’s Russia investigation likely already knows, said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a former federal prosecutor.
“Believe me, if you’re the person, you know,” Christie, a former U.S. attorney, told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” Sunday. “If you’ve been told you’re a target, believe me, you’re not sleeping well anyway.”
The team of special counsel Robert Mueller investigating Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election and possible links to the campaign of President Donald Trump has sought charges against at least one unidentified target, ABC News has learned.
Sources tell ABC News an indictment announcement and arrest could possibly come as soon as Monday.
It’s been less than six months since Mueller was appointed Special Council, so it’s not a stretch to suggest, as does The New Yorker, that this might be a message to other targets and potential targets of the investigation.
[F]ive months into his investigation, Mueller has brought a first set of criminal charges. By the standards of recent special prosecutors, that is fast work, and it confirms Mueller’s reputation as someone who doesn’t like to dally. Now that he has started arresting people, there is no reason to suppose he will stop. And that is precisely the message he wants to send.
. . . . Speaking on CNN, Michael Zeldin, a lawyer who served as a special assistant to Mueller when he was director of the F.B.I., suggested that Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, might be the person charged. Zeldin imagined Mueller taking such a step to pressure Manafort to coöperate. “There is a lot of pressure on people who are under investigation to coöperate with Mueller after this indictment,” Zeldin said. Well before Mueller was appointed special counsel, the F.B.I. had been investigating Manafort’s financial ties to a pro-Russia party in the Ukraine. Mueller took over that investigation after he was appointed, in May. In July, F.B.I. agents staged a pre-dawn raid on Manafort’s home in Alexandria, Virginia.
Manafort isn’t the only name being speculated about. Other commentators suggested that Carter Page, a former adviser to the Trump campaign who had his own extensive Russian ties, or Michael Flynn, the former national-security adviser who was ousted from the White House over his post-election contact with Russia, might be subjects of the charges. It has been reported that the former F.B.I. director James Comey, when he was leading the Russia investigation, secured permission from a secret court operating under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to tap the communications of Page and Manafort. It has also been reported that Mueller’s team demanded White House documents about Flynn.
A key political question is whether these charges are related to things that happened as part of the Trump campaign, or whether they relate to alleged wrongdoings that occurred before it began or separate from it. If there are direct ties between the charges and the campaign, that will obviously have huge ramifications on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. But if the charges concern alleged actions on the part of Manafort or others that were unrelated to the 2016 campaign, the White House may well accuse Mueller of moving beyond his remit. That allegation wouldn’t be accurate—the terms of Mueller’s appointment gave him license to investigate “any matters that arose or may arise directly” from the Russia probe . . . .
Prior to the news breaking about the pending indictment, the Wall Street Journal editorial board called for Mueller to resign and for an investigation into the role the FBI may or may not have played.
Two pertinent questions: Did the dossier trigger the FBI probe of the Trump campaign, and did Mr. Comey or his agents use it as evidence to seek wiretapping approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Trump campaign aides?
Congressional investigators need to focus on the FBI’s role, and House Speaker Paul Ryan was correct Wednesday to insist that the bureau comply with Congress’s document demands “immediately.” Mr. Sessions has recused himself from the Justice Department’s Russia probe, but he and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein can still insist on transparency. Mr. Ryan should also reinstall Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes as lead on the Russia investigation, since it appears the Democratic accusations against him were aimed in part at throwing him off the Fusion trail.
All of this also raises questions about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. The Fusion news means the FBI’s role in Russia’s election interference must now be investigated—even as the FBI and Justice insist that Mr. Mueller’s probe prevents them from cooperating with Congressional investigators.
Mr. Mueller is a former FBI director, and for years he worked closely with Mr. Comey. It is no slur against Mr. Mueller’s integrity to say that he lacks the critical distance to conduct a credible probe of the bureau he ran for a dozen years. He could best serve the country by resigning to prevent further political turmoil over that conflict of interest.
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