Russia investigation: What’s Mueller’s endgame?
Is special counsel Robert Mueller getting ready to “show his cards?” asked Andrew Prokop in Vox.com. Expectations are rising that Mueller is gearing up for a big move soon after the midterms, when the Justice Department’s pre-election “quiet period” comes to an end. Democrats expect “major new indictments against high-level players in Trumpworld,” while Republicans think Mueller is “winding down” the investigation because he hasn’t found proof that President Trump or his campaign conspired with Russia. Mueller knows he has to act quickly, said Abigail Tracy in VanityFair.com. After the elections, “Trump will have newfound latitude to curtail the Russia investigation—without the fear of repercussions at the ballot box.” It’s a foregone conclusion that Trump will oust Attorney General Jeff Sessions, replacing him with a Trump ally who hasn’t recused himself from the Russia investigation. So don’t be surprised if Mueller delivers “a November surprise” right after Election Day.
Liberals expect the Mueller report to “be among the most thrilling events of their lives,” said Darren Samuelsohn in Politico.com, but “they may be in for a disappointment.” Mueller is required only to provide his report to his superior at the Justice Department, currently Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. It will be up to Rosenstein—or whoever is in his place—whether or not to make Mueller’s report public. Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration will push hard to have damaging information suppressed. Mueller, a “by-the-books” guy, will stick to the facts in his report and may shun public comments. The bombshell that Democrats are praying for may never come.
Don’t be so sure, said Matt Ford in NewRepublic.com. Mueller has been silent during the investigation, but once it ends, he is not likely to slink off while Trump and the GOP bury 18 months of work by 15 powerhouse investigators. Russia attacked our democracy, and the special counsel has a moral and patriotic duty to tell America whether or not the president cooperated with a foreign power to win office. Mueller is definitely still working on it, said Katelyn Polantz and Evan Perez in CNN.com. Prosecutors have met with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort at least nine times since he agreed to a plea deal in mid-September. They’ve been interviewing other witnesses, and gathering a grand jury every week. “Mueller’s quiet period has not been very quiet.”