President Trump fires back, tweets that the investigation is ‘a “witch hunt’” for “evil politics”
Oct. 29 — Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election tampering and any connection with President Donald Trump will reportedly strike its first blow tomorrow, when a judge is expected to unseal the first charges stemming from the federal probe.
A grand jury approved the first indictment from Mueller’s investigation Friday, and they are sealed until tomorrow when an arrest is expected, according to multiple media outlets, who cited unnamed sources.
It’s unclear who or how many people will be charged and what the alleged crimes are.
Legal experts told The Boston Herald they expect the target of the indictment to be someone investigators think they can convince to cooperate once they find themselves facing federal charges.
“The way you work this investigation is you start at the bottom,” former federal prosecutor David Weinstein said. “When you have a sufficient amount of evidence to present to a grand jury. They return an indictment, and you offer those people an opportunity to join Team USA.”
Weinstein said the initial indictment is not an indication that the probe is nearing its end.
“It’s far from over,” he said. “It’s certainly in the middle of the investigation.”
Mueller was tapped to head the investigation into the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election as a special counsel after President Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey. In May, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller to probe “links and/or coordination between Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump, and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”
The charges expected to be unsealed tomorrow will shine a light onto Mueller’s progress since, and the way the charges are presented could say as much about the investigation as the weight of the crimes alleged.
One option is a bare-bones indictment, which would tell little more than what crimes were committed by whom and when. A long-form speaking indictment, however, would detail the crimes and pull the curtain back on the investigation to show potential targets of additional indictments what kind of firepower Mueller has.
“Sometimes it’s strategically valuable to show your hand,” said Miriam Baer, a former federal prosecutor, adding that the speaking indictment “creates a more extensive record, so the rest of the world, the defendant and defendant’s attorneys sees where the government is coming from.”
Baer said the indictment could also open a can of worms by mentioning unindicted co-conspirators, without naming them — sparking a hunt for the details of who else is tied to any conspiracy.
Then, Baer said, there’s the “atmospheric questions” that show whether the defendant or defendants are already cooperating with the prosecution.
“Is the defendant allowed to surrender on his own or do we see an early morning arrest?” Baer asked. “Does the government argue for stringent terms of bail?”
Former federal judge Nancy Gertner said she expects to see a detailed indictment so Mueller can “make clear” his investigation so far has been “highly appropriate” — protection in case Trump seeks to boot Mueller since the special counsel can only be fired “for cause.”
Meanwhile, President Trump is unleashing new criticism of the investigations into possible ties between his campaign associates and Russia.
Trump — in a series of tweets — is making reference to what he calls “phony Trump/Russia ‘collusion,’ which doesn’t exist.” He says Democrats are using — in his words — a “witch hunt” for “evil politics” and adds that Republicans are “fighting back like never before.”