"What's Happening With" is a new column from Step Up Magazine that revisits past headlines that have faded from the media's attention. Today we are discussing the Mueller Investigation.
When special counsel Robert Mueller began looking into the possibility of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia last summer, it seemed that every other news story was about the investigation. Everyone wanted to know what Mueller had, where the investigation was going, and if he had the power to potentially arrest the new president.
As this past year has gone on, various smaller stories have emerged concerning the investigation, as different figures from the campaign offered their cooperation. But with all the smaller news stories breaking, and considering it’s been a year since the investigation began, it may be difficult to keep track of where Mueller stands and what the future holds. Here’s a look into how the investigation has progressed, and where people stand on it today.
Photo: Bill Oxford on Unsplash
Robert Mueller began investigating the Trump campaign back in May of 2017, looking for potential interference from Russia or any other foreign government or interests. He is also reportedly looking into obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump himself. Mueller’s investigation took over some already ongoing Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) cases, like the one looking into Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman. Paul Manafort and his business partner, Rick Gates, were both indicted back in October of 2017 on 12 counts, including conspiracy. At the same time, Trump’s former campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI regarding his prior testimony on contact with Russia. This all took place back in October.
On December 1 2017, Michael Flynn also pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contact with a Russian ambassador. In February of this year, Mueller indicted 13 Russian nationals for attempting to interfere with the 2016 election. Also in February, a Dutch lawyer named Alex van der Zwaan pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his interactions with Rick Gates, Manafort’s partner. In April, van der Zwaan was sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined $20,000, making his the first sentencing in the Mueller probe. Rick Gates also pleaded guilty to conspiracy in February.
Mueller brought new charges against Manafort on June 8, 2018 for conspiracy and obstruction of justice, and Manafort is currently in jail awaiting trial, since his bail was revoked on June 15, 2018 by a judge after Manafort tried to influence the testimony of other witnesses. Since then, no more pleas or indictments have emerged.
With the Mueller investigation progressing, the Trump administration has been critical of Mueller and his team, repeatedly calling it a witch hunt. Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s attorney, claimed on June 6th that Mueller’s team is trying to frame Trump. The campaign manager for Trump’s 2020 reelection bid, Brad Parscale, tweeted on June 19, 2018 that it was time to end the investigation, saying that “You can’t obstruct something that was phony against you." The Mueller probe has been consistently unpopular with Trump and his administration, but public opinion has swayed over the course of the past year. Mueller’s case has become more polarizing as time goes on, with people either in strong support or opposition to the investigation, and public awareness of the investigation has also increased.
As for what could potentially happen in the future with the investigation, it is unclear how much longer the probe will continue. With increasing pressure from Trump and his administration to end the investigation, it may wrap up soon, or it may continue on longer. When the investigation does conclude, if Mueller finds that Trump broke the law, he could indict him, leave the decision up to Congress, or ask a grand jury to deem Trump a co-conspirator. Of course, he could also find no wrongdoing by the president. To continue to follow major events in the investigation and stay up to date on what Mueller finds, check out CNN’s interactive on the investigations in progress, the charges, and the people involved.