The unveiling today of indictments against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities has raised speculation that Special Counsel Robert Mueller may be nearing the end of – or has effectively finished – his probe into collusion between the Trump administration and the Russian government.
But sources are telling Bloomberg that this isn’t true.
In addition to obstruction and the various financial improprieties of certain Trump associates, Mueller is still actively investigating collusion.
Earlier today, Trump tweeted in response to the indictment’s release that it effectively vindicates the Trump campaign, since many of the activities cited in the document began in 2014.
Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 16, 2018
Instead, Mueller’s work is expected to continue “for months” with today’s indictment representing only a small slice of the investigation.
Friday’s indictment of a St. Petersburg-based “troll farm” and 13 Russian nationals should be seen as a limited slice of a comprehensive investigation, the person said. Mueller’s work is expected to continue for months and also includes examining potential obstruction of justice by Trump, said the person, who requested anonymity to discuss an investigation that is largely confidential.
A federal grand jury indicted the Russians for what it alleged was a vast scheme to interfere in the 2016 election and help Trump win. But Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said at a news conference Friday that there is “no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant” in the alleged scheme.
Given that there hadn’t been any news from the investigation in a while, Mueller’s indictment could be seen as an effort by to raise awareness about Russia’s capabilities as the 2018 US elections near. It’s still possible Mueller will indict Americans for helping Russia.
Lawmakers from both parties largely applauded the indictment, saying it puts Russia on notice, and some Democrats said it effectively vindicated Mueller.
Representative Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat who’s the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, said the announcement Friday should “lay to rest” assertions the investigation was a hoax and preempt efforts to remove officials involved in investigating Trump.
“At this point, any step President Trump may take to interfere with the Special Counsel’s investigation — including removing Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, or threatening to remove Special Counsel Mueller directly — will have to be seen as a direct attempt to aid the Russian government in attacking American democracy,” Nadler said in a statement.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Mueller’s inquiry must be allowed to follow the facts “unhindered by the White House or Republicans in Congress.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican, said the announcement underscored “why we need to follow the facts and work to protect the integrity of future elections.”
“Mueller just put Moscow on notice,” said Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska. “This ought to be a wake-up call to Washington: Putin’s shadow war is aimed at undermining Americans’ trust in our institutions. We know Russia is coming back in 2018 and 2020. We have to take this threat seriously.”
But while Mueller might still indict an American for aiding Russia, the bigger question is what is the status of his probe into obstruction, and Trump’s financial dealings? Because after all, last time we checked the Russia narrative – as the content of today’s indictment so effectively conveyed – has pretty much run its course.