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Sat Nov 3, 2018, 06:57 PM

Week 76: Is Mueller About to Roll Out the Barrels?

Week 76: Is Mueller About to Roll Out the Barrels?

Now that the special prosecutor’s quiet period is nearly over, many Russia-scandal observers expect dramatic news from the long-silent investigation.
November 03, 2018


This week, at the request of legal scholars and activists, the National Archive unsealed the “Watergate Road Map,” the report independent prosecutor Leon Jaworski sent to Congress detailing the evidence collected against President Richard Nixon. The facts-only road map didn’t recommend prosecution or claim that Nixon had committed an impeachable offense. The petition for its release asserted that the road map could provide “a key precedent for assessing the appropriate framework for Special Counsel Mueller to report to Congress any findings of potentially unlawful conduct by President Trump.”

Given all the variables at work, we’ll need more than an ancient road map to make a precise prognostication of which way Mueller will go. Complicating the divination is the likelihood the Democratic Party will take the House of Representatives and ignite new investigations of its own. As my Politico colleague Darren Samuelsohn wrote this week, the Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have a list of 70 people, organizations and companies they say the Republican-led committee ignored during its investigation and a 98-page document on outstanding lines of inquiry.

“One of the issues that is of great concern to me is: Were the Russians laundering money through the Trump Organization,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a favorite to head the Intelligence Committee in a Democratic Congress. “That to me would be far more powerful kompromat than any video.”

If Schiff pilots that committee, Trump might start waxing nostalgic about the treatment he got from Mueller’s allegedly angry, allegedly Democratic investigators compared to the genuinely angry committee Democrats working him over. As the Republican inquiry into Benghazi attests, congressional investigations are often conducted as politics by other means, especially in times of divided government. The procedural niceties and Department of Justice guidelines that steer an investigation like Mueller’s hardly exist on Capitol Hill. The point of most Hill investigations is not to determine guilt or innocence but to score political touchdowns. Unlike legal investigations, where professionalism deters prosecutors from leaking to the press, congressional investigations gush like a garden hose sprinkler to reporters eager to amplify the findings and accusations to the voting public.

Lord knows the Democrats have enough kindling to start an investigative bonfire. In addition to suspected Russian efforts to help the Trump campaign, evidence points to assistance from Middle Eastern figures. As Chris Geidner writes in BuzzFeed, top Trump stalwarts, including Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon and Erik Prince all made curious political contacts in the Middle East worth investigating. “Longtime Trump friend and billionaire investor Tom Barrack also has met with the special counsel’s office, although it is not clear whether those conversations led to any further lines of inquiry for the office,” Geidner continues.



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