First charges filed in special counsel Mueller's Russia probe: report

A federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., has reportedly approved the first charges in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

CNN reported Friday that the charges are sealed under a federal judge’s order, with sources telling the network that those charged could be taken into custody as soon as Monday.

ADVERTISEMENT

It is unclear what the charges are, according to the network. A spokesman for the special counsel's office declined to comment to The Hill.

Mueller is investigating alleged ties between Trump campaign associates and Russian officials, and several congressional committees are also probing the matter.

The U.S. intelligence community concluded in a report made public in January that the Kremlin sought to disrupt the 2016 election and sway the race in Trump's favor.

The White House did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment Friday night about reports of charges being filed in the special counsel probe.

But soon after CNN reported the charges, Trump posted a video on Twitter quoting an opinion piece in the New York Post suggesting that his former Democratic challenger Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe Clinton GOP lawmakers cite new allegations of political bias in FBI Top intel Dem: Trump Jr. refused to answer questions about Trump Tower discussions with father MORE may have colluded with Russia and sought to frame Trump as a "traitor."

The Trump administration has appeared eager in recent days to shift attention to congressional probes regarding Clinton, after months of news coverage focused on possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

After The Washington Post reported this week that the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee funded the research contained in a controversial dossier alleging ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, Trump and his allies have sought to cast Clinton as the one with connections to Moscow.

"It is now commonly agreed, after many months of COSTLY looking, that there was NO collusion between Russia and Trump. Was collusion with HC!" Trump asserted in a tweet Friday morning.

After reports emerged Friday night about charges in the special counsel's Russia probe, Fox News host Sean Hannity, one of Trump's most vocal supporters, called the development a "distraction" on Twitter and questioned when Clinton would face charges.

Mueller's investigative mandate includes any matters that may arise from the probe into Russian interference, and he has appeared in recent months to expand the scope of the probe to include possible financial crimes.

The special counsel has appeared to take increasingly aggressive steps in recent months as part of the investigation, most notably against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

In July, the FBI conducted an early morning raid at Manafort's northern Virginia home, and later subpoenaed his spokesman and one of his former lawyers.

According to CNN, lawyers working on Mueller's probe were seen entering the courthouse where the grand jury is convened. But after some activity, no announcements were made.

Mueller was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in May to oversee the investigation.

Because Rosenstein oversees the special counsel conducting the probe, he would have been notified of any charges before they were filed, sources told CNN.

The Justice Department declined to comment to The Hill.

Updated: 10:56 p.m.