Charges Filed in Robert Mueller’s Russia Probe
The first charges in the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller were approved by a federal grand jury in Washington on Friday, according to CNN, whose sources said that those charged could be taken into custody as soon as Monday.
The investigation, looking into the possibility of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, as well as the possibility of obstruction of justice by the president, has been led by Mueller since he was appointed in May, shortly after President Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comey. Comey had opened the investigation in July 2016, during Trump’s presidential campaign.
Mueller’s team has also examined foreign lobbying conducted by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and others. His team has issued subpoenas for documents and testimony to a handful of figures, including some people close to Manafort, and others involved in the Trump Tower meeting between Russians and campaign officials.
Last year, the Comey-led investigation secured approval from the secret court that oversees the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to monitor the communications of Manafort, as well as former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, as part of the investigation into Russian meddling.
In addition to Mueller’s probe, three committees on Capitol Hill are conducting their own investigations.
The Hill notes that “reports of charges being filed mark a significant milestone in Mueller’s investigation into alleged ties between Trump campaign associates and Russian officials.”
NBC News notes some of the focal points in the investigation:
Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn have been said to be key figures in Mueller’s probe, law enforcement sources familiar with the matter have told NBC News in the past.
NBC News has reported that White House adviser and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner has come under scrutiny in the probe, as has Michael G. Flynn, the son of the former national security adviser. Mueller has also been investigating whether Trump obstructed justice when he asked Comey to drop the Flynn investigation and then fired him in May.
The White House and conservative media outlets have been largely silent on the matter, despite Trump having previously called the Russia probe a “witch hunt.”
CNN: Charges in Mueller investigation MSNBC: Charges in Mueller investigation Fox: Republicans were mean to Trump! pic.twitter.com/WTLTRb90i2
— Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) October 28, 2017
The New Yorker on Saturday published an article highlighting the Trump administration’s distraction tactics throughout Mueller’s investigation, attempting to divert attention to the Hillary Clinton campaign’s alleged wrongdoing, with a likely false claim that as secretary of state, Clinton gave away U.S. uranium rights to the Russians in exchange for donations to the Clinton Foundation:
What’s more important is that Trump is once again spreading lies to confuse the public about the Russian attack on American democracy last year. There are some obvious reasons why Trump would make this untruthful claim. The first is political. Trump’s typical response to any allegation of wrongdoing is to accuse his accuser of the same crime. Perhaps the most famous moment of the Presidential debates last year was Trump’s response when Hillary Clinton accused him of being Vladimir Putin’s puppet. “No puppet, no puppet, you’re the puppet,” he muttered into his microphone. He has been trying to make that case ever since.
The New Yorker piece also theorized that Trump focused on this Clinton “scandal” to deflect media attention as Mueller’s investigation became increasingly problematic for his administration.
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