Mueller Prepares To Target Key Individuals Once Special Counsel Probe Wraps Up

As special counsel Robert Mueller faces pressure to wrap up his investigation with or without the illusive collusion charge, the Washington Post reports that the Department of Justice and Mueller's team have been preparing to pass the baton of various ongoing investigations once the probe is complete.

Meanwhile, inside the Justice Department, law enforcement officials have discussed several scenarios in which the prosecutions of people who may be charged as a result of Mueller’s investigation are farmed out to other offices to handle any future trials.

In those scenarios, these people said, some prosecutors on Mueller’s team could move with their cases to Justice Department headquarters or individual U.S. attorney offices, these people said. -Washington Post

The Post also reveals that "the transferring of some cases has already begun," while Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said on Friday that Mueller's case against 12 indicted Russian military officers would be handled by DOJ prosecutors at the Justice Department headquarters (it also doesn't take that much to sit on a case that will never see a courtroom, and the open file may linger for years, but we digress). 

There are also practical reasons to begin shuffling cases and attorneys over to the DOJ. For one, President Trump could fire Mueller if this continues to drag on - a prospect made more and more likely as time goes on without the emergence of any actual evidence of collusion. But the most logical answer is that the investigation may simply be nearing its natural end, as cases against several individuals targeted by the probe are approaching resolution. Sentencing dates have already been set for two people who cooperated with Mueller's probe and pleaded guilty to charges; George Papadopoulos and Richard Pinedo - a California man who was charged with operating a Russian internet trolling outfit. The Sentencing of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, however, has been pushed back several times, with the next court appearance being August 24. 

Then there are all the loose strings with Paul Manafort, the Podesta Group (ah who are we kidding), Michael Cohen and others the public may or may not know about. Mueller's probe ballooned in size as "mission creep" set in and investigatory avenues led to yet more investigations - requiring more attorneys. 

In the past six months, the number of prosecutors working on cases he has brought has expanded significantly, with new additions casting light on the special counsel’s potential priorities and focuses. Court filings show that at least half a dozen new names are participating in Mueller’s work, all current Justice Department prosecutors. Their backgrounds vary widely, from prosecuting violent crimes to cyber attacks.

Sol Wisenberg, who worked on Ken Starr’s independent counsel investigation of the Clinton White House, told The Daily Beast that the expansion of Mueller’s probe was to be expected. -Daily Beast

“I don’t think it’s unusual at all,” says Wisenberg. “That’s what happened with us. You get more cases or your cases become more complex, you need more prosecutors and you need more agents.”

“They wouldn’t bring them on if they didn’t need them,” he added. “They’re not bringing them on for grins. There’s work there that needs to be done or they would not be bringing them in.”

About that Trump interview

Member Trump's inner circle and legal team tell the Post that Mueller may decide against a lengthy subpoena battle for Trump to testify - while Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, leery of a "perjury trap," has insisted that the president not be required to answer certain questions. 

Among them: that Mueller not ask any questions about actions Trump has taken as president, including his private discussions with then-FBI Director James B. Comey.

Giuliani said Trump does not recall asking Comey to drop an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn and he does not want the president to be accused of lying about the episode. -Washington Post

The president firmly believes he didn’t say it,” Giuliani said.

“He doesn’t recall it. . . . But Mueller could come out the other way,” he added. “They’ll say he’s lying. We don’t want to expose him to perjury [accusations].”

Trump's attorneys haven't received a response from Mueller regarding their terms, however one person briefed on the discussions doesn't expect Mueller to agree to them. "But if he did, well, then we'd face a really interesting choice.