by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Mueller is so secretive that his lawyers hesitate to reveal, even to federal judges, what the investigation is about. When U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis recently questioned whether Mueller had the authority to prosecute former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on financial charges unrelated to the 2016 campaign, Mueller’s lawyers explained that the true scope of the investigation is a super-duper secret and “was conveyed to the special counsel upon his appointment in ongoing discussions [with deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein].”
In other words, we know the parameters of the investigation, your honor, but we don’t have to tell you. The judge’s incredulous reaction: “Come on, man.”
Nevertheless, as Mueller reaches the one-year milestone of his part of the investigation, it is possible to piece together what we have learned so far, and how it might shape what is to come.
The one thing we know for sure is who Mueller has charged with crimes. Mueller’s supporters often point to the numbers as proof of the effectiveness of the investigation: 19 indictments or guilty pleas, plus three companies charged with felonies. Of the 19 people, 13 are Russians who were involved in a 2016 election troll factory. They are not expected to ever stand trial. Two more are small fries tangentially related to either Manafort or the Russian effort. All three companies are also Russian and are not expected to face trial, although there are indications one of them might challenge Mueller’s charges. …
… Here is perhaps the most important fact about all the cases: So far, no one has been charged or pleaded guilty to any crime that involved collusion, or conspiracy, with Russia in the 2016 campaign.