News & Politics

Former Justice Department official: Even Trump 'die-hards' won't be able to dismiss Mueller's next charges

All signs point to a huge shoe yet to drop in the Russia investigation, says Harry Litman.

Photo Credit: The White House

Special counsel Robert Mueller has already made impressive progress in the investigation into ties between President Donald Trump's associates and Russian interference in the 2016 election. As of now, Mueller has gotten indictments, convictions, and guilty pleas against at least 32 people, including Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort and national security adviser Michael Flynn, as well as three different companies.

But in a new op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, former deputy assistant attorney general and University of California professor Harry Litman lays out a clear case for why there could be something much bigger on the way:

Mueller already has done the difficult digging on the Russian side of the equation, bringing detailed indictments in February 2018 for a wide-ranging Russian trolling operation related to the campaign, as well as the July 2016 hacking of Democratic Party emails. Now he’s looking to tie those allegations to people close to the Trump campaign.

The upshot may be allegations of "collusion," of the sort the president has long denied. The actual charges are likely to be one of three criminal conspiracies: violating federal election laws, violating computer laws, or soliciting or receiving something of value from a foreign government. Charges, in other words, that not even the most ardent Trump die-hard could trivialize. They bring with them the possibility that Mueller might opt to name President Trump himself as an unindicted co-conspirator.

This last possibility is not far-fetched, as prosecutors for the Southern District of New York allegedly exposed Trump as an unindicted co-conspirator in the separate case against Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen, who made illegal hush payments to women over sexual encounters with Trump.

Litman argues the next Mueller indictment could come against Jerome Corsi, a Birther conspiracy theorist and former reporter for InfoWars who allegedly had advance knowledge Hillary Clinton's campaign chair's emails had been stolen and passed to WikiLeaks — because Corsi is a direct link to Roger Stone, a GOP adviser who worked closely with the Trump campaign and who himself also appeared to have links to WikiLeaks. Corsi himself has warned his supporters he is next, and begged for legal donations.

Another piece of evidence Litman points to is a request Mueller filed to delay a status report to the D.C. court overseeing the case of Manafort, who was convicted on eight counts of bank fraud and tax evasion in August and has since made a deal to cooperate with the investigation.

"Mueller's request strongly suggests that we'll soon see important additional information bearing on the value of Manafort's cooperation, up to and including a potential role as a key witness in a soon-to-be-unveiled criminal case," Litman writes. "The whole point of the enormous pressure Mueller brought to bear against Manafort was to shake loose information about persons above him in the food chain. Those are very few, arguably only Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner or Trump himself (who we know believes that Manafort could incriminate him)."

Additionally, Litman points to an upcoming court memorandum from Mueller's prosecutors about the information obtained from Flynn, who pleaded guilty last December to lying to the FBI about his communications with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. "That they are now prepared to close the books suggests that they will be informing the court, and thus the public, of the full extent of his cooperation, including imminent new charges or charges that have been filed under seal," Litman says.

"Even if Mueller is not about to close up shop, it is increasingly likely that the full contours of his inquiry will be sketched out and known to the public by year's end," concludes Litman. "For the president and his circle, it is not shaping up to be a pretty picture."

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Matthew Chapman is a video game designer, science fiction author, and political reporter from Austin, TX. Follow him on Twitter @fawfulfan.