One of the most surprising and least noticed aspects of Mueller’s approach all along:
‘…He’s been writing the long-anticipated “Mueller Report” bit by bit, in public, since his very first court filing.
Those waiting for Mueller to issue some massive, 9/11 Commission–style report at the end of the investigation often overlook the sheer volume of detailed information Mueller has pushed into public view already. Nearly every court document he has filed has been what lawyers call a “speaking indictment,” going into deeper detail and at greater length than is strictly needed to make the case for the criminal behavior charged.
Similarly, his “criminal informations,” the indictment-like documents filed as part of guilty pleas, have often included extraneous evidence of additional, formally uncharged criminality.
In former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s plea agreement, Mueller detailed how Flynn served as an unregistered foreign agent for the government of Turkey. Manafort’s criminal information—a document that often is only a few pages, the bare minimum that prosecutors and a defendant will agree upon—this fall stretched to nearly 40 pages, including voluminous details about the so-called Hapsburg group, European politicians enlisted in Manafort’s alleged scheme, information that hadn’t appeared in any of the indictments or charges against Manafort until that point.
With his major court filings, Mueller has already written more than 290 pages of the “Mueller Report.” As Lawfare’s Benjamin Wittes has said, if a 9/11 Commission–style body had gathered in the wake of the 2016 election to study Russian interference, its findings would read much like Mueller’s novelistic charges against the Internet Research Agency and the military intelligence agency commonly referred to as the GRU.
Together with the charges against Michael Cohen by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York—which stemmed from findings by the Mueller investigation—the Justice Department has outlined over the course of this year two separate alleged criminal conspiracies that aided the election of Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
But even that’s not the full story.
Mueller’s courtroom strategy—guided surely by Michael Dreeben, one of the nation’s top appellate lawyers—has been all but flawless. His prosecutors have batted away numerous challenges, and he has notched a steady stream of guilty pleas. Earlier this fall, when Manafort became the first and only of those cases to go to trial, Mueller’s team convinced a jury of his guilt in each area of crimes they charged and, according to reporting afterward, came within a single vote of conviction on all 18 charges.
And now, Manafort’s apparent dissembling has given Mueller’s team an excuse to publish everything they know about Manafort’s “crimes and lies,” whether they’ve been publicly discussed yet or not. That could potentially include new information about that mysterious 2016 Trump Tower meeting—prompted by a Russian offer to help the campaign—or details about the apparent Assange connection.
A Manafort sentencing submission, meanwhile, would sidestep the current awkward question of delivering a “Mueller Report” to the acting attorney general, Matt Whitaker, that could be suppressed politically or redacted before release.…’