Mueller figures celebrate end of probe

Figures implicated in special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump MORE’s investigation are celebrating the end of the probe, taking it as a sign that they will not be indicted on charges related to Russian collusion.

Big names such as Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpTrump remarks deepen distrust with intelligence community Trump remarks deepen distrust with intelligence community Lieu trolls Trump with 'warning' to foreign powers on office door MORE and witnesses such as conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi viewed a Justice Department statement that no further indictments will be coming from the special counsel’s office as clearing their names in the Russia investigation.

But those individuals aren’t necessarily out of the woods: Mueller’s report is still hidden from public view, and it’s unknown what conclusions he reached or evidence he found, even if it didn’t result in charges.


Legal experts also told The Hill that it’s possible that investigations that began under Mueller could have been referred to other branches of the Justice Department, and charges could eventually emerge from those related probes.

At the same time, they said Friday’s developments are welcome news for figures on the periphery of the probe, even if they should not entirely let their guard down.

Speculation over what could be included in Mueller’s report continued to grow on Saturday, as Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrAnticipation builds for final Supreme Court rulings Anticipation builds for final Supreme Court rulings Trump's Justice Department should change its tune on antitrust policy MORE and Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinTrump: I didn't fire Mueller since firings 'didn't work out too well' for Nixon Trump: I didn't fire Mueller since firings 'didn't work out too well' for Nixon GOP group urges Republicans to speak out on obstruction claims against Trump in new ad MORE were spotted at the Justice Department.

A source told The Hill on Saturday that Congress did not expect to be briefed on the report’s findings on Saturday. Barr had said in his letter Friday notifying congressional leaders of the end of Mueller’s probe that they could expect to be briefed on the report’s conclusions as soon as this weekend.

In the hours after the report was delivered to Barr, Trump Jr. took to Twitter to deride “#CollusionTruthers” who spent the duration of Mueller’s 22-month-long probe speculating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

A source close to Trump Jr. also said the president’s son viewed the end of the probe as proving that he didn’t collude with Russia or lie under oath to Congress.

Trump Jr. faced intense scrutiny over a 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign officials and several Russians. He also testified before the House Intelligence Committee in 2017 as part of the panel’s Russia probe, and the committee voted earlier this year to hand over all of its interview transcripts to Mueller.

Mueller charged several people, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn, ex-Trump campaign staffer George PapadopoulosGeorge Demetrios PapadopoulosInquiry into origins of Russia investigation is a scam Trump accuses Democrats of crime amid rising calls for impeachment Comey: Trump peddling 'dumb lies' MORE and Republican operative Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneHouse panel subpoenas Flynn, Gates House panel subpoenas Flynn, Gates Court orders release of sealed documents in mysterious Mueller grand jury case MORE, with making false statements to investigators or Congress, indicating that he’s willing to bring charges on that front.

The source close to Trump Jr. also dismissed concerns that he could face charges from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), maintaining that it wasn’t criminal for him to have taken the Trump Tower meeting.

Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser who faced questions over his contacts with Moscow during the 2016 campaign, told The Hill that he has "never had any concerns" about DOJ investigations involving him.

"I just want to do whatever I can to expose the truth," he said in a text.

Corsi, a former associate of Stone, also told The Hill that he believes the DOJ statement means that he will not be indicted.

Documents publicly shared by Corsi last year showed that he was offered a plea deal by Mueller’s team, in which he would plead guilty to one count of making a false statement to investigators. In return, they would ask that he receive no prison time.

Corsi rejected the offer and filed a lawsuit against Mueller, alleging wrongdoing by the special counsel.

He said Saturday that he felt “vindicated” by the end of the investigation and the lack of indictments released with the probe’s conclusion.

Corsi also pushed back against the prospect of any further indictments coming from other branches of the Justice Department, including the SDNY.

"That would be really cute if they said they were done and they referred it to somebody else,” Corsi said.

Stone, a longtime Trump ally and onetime Trump campaign adviser who will go to trial in November on charges stemming from Mueller’s probe, declined to comment. He is under a gag order issued by the federal judge in his case.

While some Trump allies are celebrating the end of the probe, legal experts aren’t so quick to reach the same conclusion.

Former federal prosecutors told The Hill that it’s entirely possible that Mueller referred any ongoing probes or evidence of criminal activity to other U.S. attorney’s offices to pick up because it didn’t fall under the scope of his mandate to investigate Russian interference in U.S. elections.

Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University Law School, said the lack of indictments on Friday “raises serious questions about the viability of the collusion theories.”

He said while current Justice Department guidance states that a sitting president cannot be indicted, that doesn’t mean that those close to the president such as his son and son-in-law, White House adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerFinancial disclosure form shows Ivanka Trump earned M from DC Trump hotel Financial disclosure form shows Ivanka Trump earned M from DC Trump hotel Kim Kardashian West joins Trump at White House event for ex-prisoners MORE, are also exempt from criminal prosecution.

But Turley added that the ongoing congressional inquiries into the president’s administration, family and businesses still represent an ongoing threat to Trump and his allies.

“I certainly think that it brings this down to DEFCON 4 if you’re an unindicted person of interest, but you still need to be in the alert stage,” Turley, an opinions contributor to The Hill, said.

Kendall Coffey, a former federal prosecutor, said the announcement that there will be no further indictments from Mueller is a “strong signal” that nothing in the special counsel’s report was compelling enough to indict figures such as Trump Jr.

“It’s still possible, of course, Mueller is going to refer issues that are not core issues to other offices,” Coffey said, noting that the SDNY is currently investigating a campaign finance violation tied to the president.

That investigation stemmed from Mueller’s probe into Trump’s former personal attorney Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump and House Democrats resume battle The Hill's Morning Report - Trump and House Democrats resume battle House Oversight votes to hold Barr, Ross in contempt MORE. Cohen publicly implicated Trump in a plan to make payments to women alleging affairs with Trump ahead of the 2016 election, which Trump denies.

Mimi Rocah, a former assistant U.S. attorney with the SDNY, agreed that it’s too early to draw any conclusions as to whether Trump associates are safe from prosecution.

She noted that Mueller conducted an extensive probe, and it remains unknown what evidence the special counsel was able to gather during the nearly two-year investigation.

“Mueller wasn’t sitting there collecting information that we already know in the public record,” she said, suggesting that more revelations could come out about those scrutinized by the special counsel.