The signs are mounting that special counsel Robert Mueller may soon be issuing a report with the findings from his investigation which has been going on nearly two years.
The past week was a very eventful one for Mueller and his team of investigators, and there were several clues that their work may soon conclude with a final report to the Justice Department (DOJ).
Last Wednesday federal judge Amy Berman Jackson gave a second prison sentence to Paul Manafort, making his sentences now total over seven years. This ended Mueller’s prosecution of the former Trump campaign chairman who will be in prison until 2024 unless Donald Trump pardons him or commutes his sentence.
There were also other clues this week that suggest Mueller’s probe is reaching some type of conclusion. On Tuesday, Mueller indicated that he has all the information he needs from former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The former general has been cooperating with Mueller’s team since he pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI.
Key Mueller Team Members Are Leaving
In addition, two key members of Mueller’s team announced they are leaving.
The FBI said a week ago that its top agent on the special counsel’s team has been reassigned to a different job. And a Mueller spokesman on Thursday issued a statement confirming that the office’s top prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann, would leave soon also.
“The signs I see are all pointing towards an investigation that is wrapping up,” said Patrick Cotter, a former federal prosecutor who has worked with Weissmann on organized crime cases. He then added:
“We are probably a few weeks or even a month or more away from the issuing of a final report, but certainly a fairly complete draft is already being circulated inside the Mueller team.”
Cotter said, however, he’d be surprised if Weissmann would actually leave without reviewing the complete findings of the special counsel’s probe.
Still, Weissmann’s departure would probably be a sign that the report is nearly complete.
According to Cotter:
“His knowledge, experience and skills are too great for Mueller not to use him as a leading author of such a report. And I do not believe he would leave if he thought major new veins of information and significant charges were still to come.”
Congress Is Getting Ready for the Release of Mueller’s Report
Congress appears to be getting ready for the big moment when Mueller releases his final report.
In a big win for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the House last week in a unanimous 420-0 vote directed Attorney General William Barr to release in full the special counsel’s final report after he receives it from the special counsel.
Prosecutions Will Likely Continue For Months
Even if the special counsel investigation is nearly complete, and even if he has already obtained sealed indictments against other people, the prosecutions of the criminal cases will likely continue for many more months.
For example, a judge has set the opening date in the trial of former Trump political adviser Roger Stone for November 5. He is being tried on charges that he lied to Congress about efforts to contact Wikileaks during the 2016 campaign.
While Mueller and his Justice Department supervisors aren’t saying anything official about the conclusion of the special counsel’s work, the signs show that a big change is coming.
Former Trump campaign deputy chairman Rick Gates is still cooperating with federal prosecutors in “several ongoing investigations” and isn’t ready to be sentenced yet, according to a one-page joint status report filed in federal court in D.C.. But they said he will be ready within 60 days. This may be the strongest evidence yet of a specific time frame for the Mueller investigation to end.
The filing suggests Gates is helping federal prosecutors in New York who are investigating Trump’s inauguration committee.
The Mueller investigation has had a narrow scope: to look into how Russia influenced the 2016 presidential election. If it shuts down, there are other prosecutors who will continue separate investigations into other crimes the special counsel uncovered. These include the U.S. attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York, the New York Attorney General’s office, and the District Attorney of Manhattan.
This means that when the Mueller probe ends, the prosecutions of Donald Trump and his children may be just beginning.