Robert Mueller

What Mueller’s Org Chart Says About Russia Investigation

“Special counsel Robert Mueller has not publicly uttered a single word about the direction of his high-stakes Russia probe. But the way he’s assigned the 17 federal prosecutors on his team — pieced together by Politico from court filings and interviews with lawyers familiar with the Russia cases —gives insight into how he’s conducting the investigation and what might be coming next.”

“His most experienced attorneys have discrete targets, such as former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and current White House aides. Mueller’s longtime chief of staff is coordinating all the lawyers, including some who cover multiple topics. Select FBI special agents have been tapped to question witnesses.”

Mueller Interviewed Clovis Last Week

“Sam Clovis, the former top Trump campaign official who supervised a man now cooperating with the FBI’s Russia investigation, was questioned last week by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team and testified before the investigating grand jury,” NBC News reports.

“George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in July and began cooperating with agents… The court documents unsealed Monday describe emails between Papadopoulos and an unnamed ‘campaign supervisor.’ The supervisor responded ‘Great work’ after Papadopoulos discussed his interactions with Russians who wanted to arrange a meeting with Trump and Russian leaders.”

Mueller Schedules Interviews with White House Staff

President Trump’s longtime aide and current communications director, Hope Hicks, is scheduled to speak with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team in mid-November, following the president’s trip to Asia, multiple people familiar with the schedule told Politico.

Mueller’s team is also expected to interview three or four other current White House officials as early as this week.

Mueller Puts Down a Marker

Financial Times: “The allegations in the federal indictment of Paul Manafort and Richard Gates — even considered in isolation — are enough to frighten any friend of America. If they are true, Donald Trump’s campaign manager from March to August 2016 — a period encompassing his nomination by the Republican party — was a criminal. Not a criminal in some abstract or technical sense: Mr Manafort is accused of laundering millions of dollars, evading taxes, and concealing his role as a lobbyist for a foreign government.”

“The latter point is the most alarming. It raises the possibility that a foreign power, without knowledge of the electorate, influenced the policy of the party that ultimately won the presidency.”

Robert Mueller Sends a Message

John Cassidy: “After CNN published its story on Friday night, some Democrats and commentators suggested that the Trump Administration may have known the Mueller indictments were coming and leaked the Steele story to create a smokescreen… Plausible as that theory sounds, it, too, is conjecture.”

“What isn’t speculation is the fact that, five 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.”

No Puppet. No Puppet. You’re the Puppet!

Jonathan Chait: “Having apparently decided that defending the Trump campaign against charges of collusion with Russian cyberattacks is an impossible task, the Republican Party has decided to go on offense. The House Intelligence Committee, putatively assigned to investigate collusion, is instead running a counter-investigation into Trump’s nemeses. Their argument, incredibly enough, is that the FBI and Robert Mueller are the real perpetrators of collusion with Russia. ‘No puppet, no puppet, you’re the puppet’ has become the new Republican argument against Mueller.”

“Their case, which is being quickly spread by Republican officeholders and conservative media, centers on the role of Christopher Steele, a respected retired British intelligence officer turned private investigator, and Fusion GPS, the firm for which he worked.”

Mueller Announcement Within a Month?

National security expert Juliette Kayyem told Boston Public Radio that news from Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation will be announced within the next month.

Said Kayyem: “I think it is safe to say that before Thanksgiving … something’s going to drop with Mueller. The pace is too much right now. Every 12 hours we’re now dealing with a piece of this story at a pace we haven’t seen.”

Kayyem speculated that the pace of stories critical of Hillary Clinton represents “a recognition by the White House team” that Mueller is getting close to something substantive as a result of his investigation.

White House May Offer Mueller Interview with Trump

President Trump’s lawyers “are open to having the president sit down for an interview with Robert Mueller, according to a senior White House official, as part of a wider posture of cooperation with the special counsel’s Russia probe,” the Politico reports.

“If Mueller doesn’t request an interview by Thanksgiving, Trump’s lawyers may even force the issue by volunteering Trump’s time, the official said. The White House believes such an interview could help Mueller wrap up the probe faster and dispel the cloud of suspicion over Trump.”

Mueller Interviews His Boss on Russia Investigation

The Wall Street Journal reports Robert Mueller’s office has interviewed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about Trump’s firing of James Comey.

“The interview, which occurred in June or July, presents the unusual situation of investigators questioning the person directly overseeing their probe. Mr. Mueller as special counsel has a good deal of independence, but he ultimately answers to Mr. Rosenstein, because Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation. The special counsel’s handling of the interview could be a sign that Mr. Mueller’s team doesn’t view Mr. Rosenstein as a central witness in its probe, as the deputy attorney general hasn’t withdrawn himself from overseeing it since that interview. A key witness would likely have to take such a step.”

Mueller Going For the Kill

Mike Allen reports that special counsel Robert Mueller “is burrowing in hard on the obstruction of justice angle.”

“Republicans close to the White House say every sign by Mueller — from his hiring of Mafia and money-laundering experts to his aggressive pursuit of witnesses and evidence — is that he’s going for the kill.”

“Trump allies fret that the White House is ill-prepared for the public showdown with Mueller that will eventually come, and should be making legal, political and constitutional arguments for the president’s right to fire Comey. Statements by Trump lawyers tend to rattle, rather than reassure, White House allies.”

Mueller Enlists IRS for Trump-Russia Investigation

Daily Beast: “Special counsel Bob Mueller has teamed up with the IRS. According to sources familiar with his investigation into alleged Russian election interference, his probe has enlisted the help of agents from the IRS’ Criminal Investigations unit.”

“This unit—known as CI—is one of the federal government’s most tight-knit, specialized, and secretive investigative entities. Its 2,500 agents focus exclusively on financial crime, including tax evasion and money laundering. A former colleague of Mueller’s said he always liked working with IRS’ special agents, especially when he was a U.S. Attorney.”

“And it goes without saying that the IRS has access to Trump’s tax returns—documents that the president has long resisted releasing to the public.”

Mueller Teams Up with New York Attorney General

“Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is working with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on its investigation into Paul Manafort and his financial transactions,” Politico reports.

“The cooperation is the latest indication that the federal probe into President Trump’s former campaign chairman is intensifying. It also could potentially provide Mueller with additional leverage to get Manafort to cooperate in the larger investigation into Trump’s campaign, as Trump does not have pardon power over state crimes.”

Jonathan Chait: “Trump can pardon anybody facing charges from Mueller, but not from Schneiderman. It is probably significant that Mueller is letting this fact be known to Trump’s inner circle. Trump’s biggest source of leverage over Mueller just disappeared.”

Mueller Seeks First Grand Jury Testimony

Special counsel Robert Mueller “issued grand jury subpoenas in recent days seeking testimony from public relations executives who worked on an international campaign organized by Paul Manafort,” NBC News reports.

“This is the first public indication that Mueller’s investigation is beginning to compel witness testimony before the grand jury — a significant milestone in an inquiry that is examining the conduct of President Donald Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, among others.”

“It is also further indication that Manafort, Trump’s onetime campaign chairman, could be in serious legal jeopardy.”