The midterm elections may have concluded across the United States, but that doesn’t mean the political tumult is slowing down. The midterms have given way to a resurgence of the Russia investigation’s prominence — and it might, at least in part, soon be drawing to a close. A number of unnamed sources told CNN that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team has begun preparing its final report.
There’s at least one major piece that still needs to fall into place — answers from President Donald Trump for Mueller. The president’s legal team and the special counsel have hassled each other for months over a potential presidential interview, and this week, the president is reported to have been reviewing written answers for the special counsel that might be sent before the end of the month. Whether that will be the end of interview negotiations is an open question.
There remain, of course, many other questions to be answered as well. CNN notes that Mueller has reportedly zeroed in on past Trump associate Roger Stone. The special counsel’s team has brought a number of Stone’s associates in for questioning, including one — conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi — who says he’s been in near constant contact with prosecutors.
Mueller wants to know, by all appearances, whether Stone acted as an intermediary between the Trump campaign and the Russian meddling campaign that unfolded during the 2016 presidential election cycle. He marketed himself — including to then-Trump campaign chairman Steve Bannon — as a source for inside knowledge about Wikileaks dumps of emails stolen from Democrats, but Mueller wants to understand the scope of reality in that situation.
Stone’s said that he’s prepared to be indicted, although he’s asserted that it would be part of a political hit job against him if it happened. Just this week, a report came out in POLITICO that Donald Trump Jr. fears a possibly looming indictment from the special counsel for, at the very least, perjury. He claimed to have kept his father out of the information loop surrounding a 2016 meeting he took with a Kremlin lawyer claimed to have Russian government dirt on Hillary Clinton — but that doesn’t seem to be true. The elder Trump has already been reported to have helped cover up the true nature of the meeting, with a hand in the initial statement claiming it was about “adoptions.”
The issue remains one of many obviously weighing on the president as he continues to antagonize the Russia investigation. Just this week — the day after the midterms concluded, to be exact — he pressured U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions out of his position, appointing Sessions’ chief of staff Matthew Whitaker as acting Attorney General in his stead. He’s been harshly critical of the Mueller investigation in the past, and he may be the one to handle the question of what to do with the private version of that final Mueller report. In the past, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani has suggested the president’s team would directly fight that release — although Democrats now have subpoena power thanks to taking control in the U.S. House.
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