On Thursday, Special Counsel Mueller requested 70 blank subpoenas for appearances in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) in the case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Also on Thursday it was reported by CNBC that Mueller “is focusing intensely on alleged interactions between former top Trump campaign official Rick Gates and political operative Roger Stone, one of President Donald Trump’s closest confidants.”
These stories are connected in that Rick Gates was Manafort’s right-hand man for years, and stayed on as a top adviser to the Trump campaign after Manafort was fired for keeping secret his close ties to the Putin-backed government of Ukraine.
In Virginia Manafort is facing many criminal charges including concealing foreign bank accounts, income tax fraud, money laundering and failure to report foreign bank accounts. The people subpoenaed would have to appear in the Virginia court at 10 a.m. on July 10, 2018.
Under Title IV, Rule 17 of Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the clerk of court “must issue a blank subpoena—signed and sealed—to the party requesting it,” in this case Mueller, “and that party must fill in the blanks before the subpoena is served.”
Blank subpoenas are used for witnesses who the prosecutor wants to show up, but he will fill in the names later since he doesn’t want the witnesses’ names revealed at this time. Which means that when Manafort goes to trial he is going to have to face an onslaught of hostile witnesses who have been prepped by the special counsel’s team to provide incriminating evidence. Definitely bad news for Manafort.
Concerning Stone, he has been doing shady deals with Trump for decades, and so far he has been hiding in the shadows of the Mueller probe. However, his time in the limelight may have arrived.
According to CNBC, “Stone, a longtime adviser to Trump, is apparently one of the top subjects of the Mueller investigation into potential collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign, sources told CNBC on condition of anonymity.”
Allegedley Stone and Gates had many meetings, including lengthy dinners, and Mueller wants to know what they talked about. These meetings took place before, during and after Trump’s campaign for the presidency.
It has been rumored — and there is evidence to support this — that Stone was the informal liaison between the Trump campaign and Wikileaks, and Stone talked about the release of the hacked Clinton/DNC emails before this information was made public. But this new information indicates that Mueller is looking at Stone for additional involvement in possible conspiracies to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Gates of course is fully cooperating with the Mueller investigation and in February pleaded guilty to two criminal charges. It’s always been known that Gates could be providing Mueller with a lot of evidence about Manafort’s alleged crimes. What’s new is that Gates may also be talking to Mueller and his team about Stone’s involvement in similar crimes, or at least in the coordination (collusion) between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Gates and Stone first worked together decades ago at a lobbying firm in Washington which was founded by Stone along with Manafort. One of these three musketeers has already admitted crimes and is providing evidence to the Mueller probe. It appears to be just a matter of time before the other two are either found guilty in court or decide to start cooperating with the Mueller probe.