End of Mueller shifts focus to existing probes

Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE is finished investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, shifting the focus to cases spawned by his 22-month probe.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating President TrumpDonald TrumpThe Memo: The Obamas unbound, on race Iran says onus is on US to rejoin nuclear deal on third anniversary of withdrawal Assaults on Roe v Wade increasing MORE’s former personal attorney Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenMichael Cohen on Giuliani's legal fees: He won't get 'two cents' from Trump Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels blast FEC for dropping Trump probe FEC drops investigation into Trump hush money payments MORE’s campaign finance violations thanks to one of more than a dozen referrals Mueller made to other districts in the course of his investigation.


Prosecutors in Washington are eyeing a November trial for Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneMichael Cohen on Giuliani's legal fees: He won't get 'two cents' from Trump Cohen on Giuliani: 'Chickens coming home to roost' There was Trump-Russia collusion — and Trump pardoned the colluder MORE, a case Mueller passed off when he shuttered his probe after charging the former Trump ally with lying to Congress about his interactions with WikiLeaks. Prosecutors are also pursuing an active case against the people behind the Russian troll farm accused of meddling in the election. Mueller charged them more than a year ago.

Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, is expected to soon take the witness stand against his onetime business partner for allegedly illegally lobbying on behalf of the Turkish government.

And House Democrats appear intent on using Mueller’s report to pursue their own case on obstruction of justice against the president.

The version of Mueller’s 448-page report that Attorney General William BarrBill BarrDemocrats, activists blast Trump DOJ effort to get journalists' phone records Trump admin got phone records of WaPo reporters covering Russia probe: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Facebook upholds Trump ban; GOP leaders back Stefanik to replace Cheney MORE released publicly on Thursday is redacted to prevent “harm to ongoing matters,” including investigations stemming from the special counsel’s original probe.

As a result, details on other cases are shrouded in mystery.

Still, the scope of the redactions serves as a reminder of the reach of Mueller’s investigation.

Mueller obtained 37 indictments or guilty pleas, including charges against six Trump associates for making false statements and other crimes.

Mueller submitted his report without recommending further indictments, and he did not find sufficient evidence to accuse members or associates of Trump’s 2016 campaign of conspiring with the Kremlin to meddle in the election.

But he did refer 14 instances of potential criminal activity to law enforcement in other districts that fell outside his original mandate to investigate Russian meddling.

Only two of those are revealed in the report: the evidence that precipitated Cohen’s first guilty plea in August as well as the case involving former Obama White House counsel Gregory Craig, who pleaded not guilty to violating foreign lobbying laws last week. It is unclear whether the other 12 unknown matters will ultimately yield criminal charges.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are still investigating Cohen’s payments to women who claimed they had affairs with Trump before the election, which authorities say amount to campaign finance violations. Cohen has claimed publicly that Trump directed him to make the payments and paid him back while in office. Trump has denied wrongdoing.

Some of the ongoing investigations and criminal cases could present political problems for a White House seeking to move on after Mueller.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan had gathered more evidence in the hush money probe through interviews with members of Trump’s inner circle, such as Hope HicksHope HicksUPDATED: McEnany, Fox News talks on pause Trump selects Hicks, Bondi, Grenell and other allies for positions Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis tests positive for coronavirus MORE, that implicated him in federal crimes. Federal prosecutors in New York are also said to be investigating Trump’s inaugural committee.

Justice Department policy is not to indict a sitting president, but it’s possible prosecutors indict Trump for campaign finance violations after he leaves office.

Large swaths of Mueller’s report are redacted, apparently to conceal details related to the criminal case against Stone. He allegedly communicated with Trump campaign officials about WikiLeaks's releases involving the Clinton campaign and then lied about them to congressional investigators. Stone has pleaded not guilty and is fighting the charges.

“Maybe that conduct does not amount to criminal conspiracy … but it could still remind people that some in the Trump campaign were trying to encourage and benefit from the Russian hack and the WikiLeaks dump,” said Elie Honig, a white-collar criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor. “If Stone goes to trial, we are going to learn who those senior Trump campaign officials were.”

GOP strategist Doug Heye says the political implications for Trump are limited barring a major development that directly implicates him.

“They’re a communication issue because it keeps a lot of the story alive, but as long as Trump is not directly implicated in any of this, politically, it shouldn’t affect him at all,” Heye said.

“He’s already shown a willingness of himself to aggressively distance himself … from former staff,” Heye added, noting Trump’s public attacks on Cohen’s credibility.  

Some of the continuing cases, including the charges against Russians who ran the St. Petersburg troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency, have little to do with the president but could shed further light on the extent of Russia’s influence operations.

Mueller’s probe has also produced new fodder for the Democrat-controlled House.

Following the conclusion of Mueller’s investigation, Democrats have shifted their attention to the details laid out with respect to 10 episodes where Mueller examined potential obstruction by Trump. The special counsel wrote that he lacked “confidence” to rule definitively that Trump did not criminally obstruct justice, and that his report did not exonerate the president.

The report depicts a president deeply concerned over the appointment of the special counsel and intent on seizing control of his investigation, though aides largely prevented Trump from executing any actions that could be perceived as obstruction.

Some Democrats have even revived discussions about potential impeachment proceedings, though Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDefense lawyers for alleged Capitol rioters to get tours of U.S. Capitol Gaetz, Greene tout push to oust Cheney: 'Maybe we're the leaders' Free Speech Inc.: The Democratic Party finds a new but shaky faith in corporate free speech MORE (D-Calif.) and other leaders have signaled they have little appetite for such action in the absence of new and overwhelming evidence of wrongdoing by the president.

House Democrats are demanding unfettered access to Mueller’s full report and underlying evidence, rejecting an offer from Barr to allow select lawmakers to view a less redacted version in secure spaces. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerHouse to consider anti-Asian hate crimes bill, protections for pregnant workers this month A historic moment to truly honor mothers Britney Spears to discuss conservatorship in court MORE (D-N.Y.) on Friday issued a subpoena for the special counsel’s full report, saying Congress needs it to guide its own probes into Trump and his administration.

“Even the redacted version of the report outlines serious instances of wrongdoing by President Trump and some of his closest associates,” Nadler said. “It now falls to Congress to determine the full scope of that alleged misconduct and to decide what steps we must take going forward.”

Trump criticized the report as an illegal “big, fat, waste of time” in a series of tweets Friday, while he and his allies have celebrated the report as proof of “no collusion.”