In the 19 months since Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel to investigate the Russian attack on the 2016 election, we’ve repeatedly seen connections between members of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia. There’s so many of them, it can be difficult to keep up with all of the indictments (22 to date), guilty pleas (10 of those), and the seemingly endless ways Russia eagerly worked to make sure Trump was elected 45th President of the United States.
And now, with 2019 just a few hours away, it seems fair to take a look into the future and see where the Mueller investigation will go next.
Ken Dilanian of NBC News just published an excellent summary of all the twists and turns in the Russia probe so far, and what we’ve seen so far suggests we might see in the near future. Dilanian notes:
“Mueller has so far not showed the public proof that speaks to the central question he was hired to answer: Whether Trump or any of his associates actively conspired with the effort by Russian intelligence officers to hack, leak and otherwise interfere in the 2016 election. None of the criminal charges filed to date have addressed that issue.”
The reason Mueller hasn’t yet shown his hand when it comes to collusion with Russia is simple: He’s saving that for last, probably for his final indictments and the report he will submit.
But what former federal prosecutor Daniel Goldman had to say suggests that the stakes are even higher than we ever suspected, and the real crime revolves around money:
“What we are learning is that there may have been a much larger conspiracy to provide sanctions relief to Russia either in return for personal business and financial benefits or in return for assistance in the campaign.”
In other words, quid pro quo: You help me and I’ll help you.
So what is Mueller’s endgame? Turns out that should terrify Trump more than anything else: Mueller is only the tip if the legal iceberg. Trump is also under investigation by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York and the office of the New York Attorney General. And there may be other grand juries currently sitting that are also looking at charges against Trump.
Oh, and let’s not forget the impending Congressional investigations that will start when Democrats take control of the House on January 3. Those — in conjunction with the Mueller report — could well lead to the impeachment of Donald Trump.
2019 promises to be a very busy year for Robert Mueller. And it may also wind up being the end of the Trump criminal enterprise.