×

1 year into Russia probe, Washington is rattled, uncertain

  • FILE - In this June 21, 2017, file photo, Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs after a closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about Russian meddling in the election at the Capitol in Washington. A year into his investigation, special counsel Robert Mueller is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. In that time, the breadth and stealth of his investigation has rattled the White House and its chief occupant, and has spread to Capitol Hill, K Street, foreign governments and, as late as last week, corporate boardrooms. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) J. Scott Applewhite

  • President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the White House, Thursday. ap photo

  • FILE - In this April 4, 2018, file photo, Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, leaves the federal courthouse in Washington. A year into his investigation, special counsel Robert Mueller is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. In that time, the breadth and stealth of his investigation has rattled the White House and its chief occupant, and has spread to Capitol Hill, K Street, foreign governments and, as late as last week, corporate boardrooms. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File) Andrew Harnik

  • FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2018, file photo, Rick Gates departs federal court in Washington. A year into his investigation, special counsel Robert Mueller is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. In that time, the breadth and stealth of his investigation has rattled the White House and its chief occupant, and has spread to Capitol Hill, K Street, foreign governments and, as late as last week, corporate boardrooms. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File) Alex Brandon

  • FILE - In this Dec. 1, 2017, file photo, former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn leaves federal court in Washington. A year into his investigation, special counsel Robert Mueller is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. In that time, the breadth and stealth of his investigation has rattled the White House and its chief occupant, and has spread to Capitol Hill, K Street, foreign governments and, as late as last week, corporate boardrooms. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File) Susan Walsh



Associated Press
Thursday, May 17, 2018

WASHINGTON — Unlike the president, Robert Mueller hasn’t uttered one word in public about his Russia investigation in the year since he was appointed special counsel. And that is rattling just about everyone involved.

What’s he up to? When will he bring the probe to an end?

He doesn’t have to say, and he’s not.

A year into the investigation, the stern-looking prosecutor is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. In that time, the breadth and stealth of investigations surrounding Trump have unsettled the White House and its chief occupant, and have spread to Capitol Hill, K Street, foreign governments and, as late as last week, corporate boardrooms.

With lawmakers eying midterm elections and President Donald Trump publicly mulling whether he will sit for an interview with Mueller, Republican calls are growing for the special counsel to end his investigation. Vice President Mike Pence and others have said it publicly. GOP lawmakers insist they’ve seen no evidence of collusion between Russians and Trump’s 2016 election campaign.

The longer the investigation runs, those calls are likely to amplify.

Mueller is investigating Russian interference in the election, whether Trump’s campaign was involved and possible obstruction of justice. And by the standards of previous special counsel investigations, his actually has so far gone fairly quickly. Since he was appointed on May 17, 2017, Mueller’s office has charged 19 people and three Russian companies. He has charged four Trump campaign advisers, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

While Mueller himself still enjoys generally broad bipartisan support in Congress, particularly in the Senate, the secrecy of the investigation has created anxiety about what is next.

The president’s lawyers have rushed to fill that vacuum, recently suggesting they’ve been told Mueller won’t indict Trump and couldn’t force the president to comply with an interview. Personal attorney Rudy Giuliani suggested that a recent conversation with Mueller’s team led him to believe the special counsel, citing a Justice Department opinion, had ruled out the possibility of trying to indict a sitting president.

It’s unclear how much insight the Trump legal team has into Mueller’s timing. As in most major investigations, his office does not leak, and his spokesmen don’t comment on nearly every news story. Mueller is barely even photographed — forcing news outlets to run the same photos and videos over and over again, of him on Capitol Hill or heading to work.

Mueller’s detractors would argue that the cases have largely involved false statement allegations divorced from the central Russian collusion question, Wisenberg said, while supporters will point to the indictments to prove the special counsel has uncovered criminal conduct deserving of his appointment.

Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday on the Senate floor: “I would say to the president it’s not a witch hunt when 17 Russians have been indicted; it’s not a witch hunt when some of the most senior members of the Trump campaign have been indicted.”