It’s been an especially quiet duration for the Trump-Russia investigation considering information of its first indictments dropped in overdue October — but a chain of recent reports should deliver some clues approximately what unique recommend Robert Mueller would possibly do next.
First, reviews have indicated that President Trump’s former countrywide security adviser Michael Flynn can also at least be exploring the possibility of creating a cope with Mueller’s team. The question of whether Flynn flips and gives Mueller incriminating statistics about other Trump officials or the president himself may want to turn out to be relatively critical.
Second, Mueller’s investigators have already interviewed numerous top modern-day and previous White House aides, and that they plan to interview numerous greater inside the coming weeks, along with White House suggest Don McGahn, communications director Hope Hicks, and a communications aide who’s worked intently with Jared Kushner.
Third, we learned this week that Turkish gold dealer Reza Zarrab, who had been charged with orchestrating a scheme to avoid Iran sanctions, has agreed to emerge as a government witness as part of a plea deal. And at the same time as Zarrab’s prosecution is broken free Mueller’s probe, his name has intriguingly come up in latest reports approximately Flynn’s connections to the Turkish government.
Will Flynn turn?
With costs towards Paul Manafort and Rick Gates filed — their trial is anticipated to start in May 2018 — attention has grown to become to the alternative Trump accomplice who’s seemed to be in very critical legal jeopardy: Michael Flynn.
Flynn has reportedly been under investigative scrutiny for a plethora of subjects — ranging from whether he made fake statements about his contacts with the Russian ambassador during the transition to whether or not he properly disclosed bills he received from Russian and Turkish pastimes to the broader remember of whether or not the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.
NBC News pronounced returned on November 5 that, consistent with “a couple of resources acquainted with the research,” Mueller had enough evidence to bring charges within the Flynn investigation — and that those fees ought to implicate Flynn’s son Michael Flynn Jr. Of wrongdoing as properly.
And over the ensuing days, reviews suggested that the Flynns were in the even extra criminal problem than had previously been known. In unique, the Wall Street Journal suggested that Mueller’s group became investigating whether or not the pair had agreed to attempt to put off Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen from the united states of America in exchange for bills of millions of greenbacks. (Flynn’s lawyer issued an assertion denying the story.)
Then the ultimate week, the New York Times stated that Flynn’s legal professionals had informed President Trump’s prison crew that they may now not proportion records approximately Mueller’s case. This turned into interpreted as a signal that Flynn’s crew changed into exploring making a plea deal, wherein he’d provide facts in return for leniency in charging or sentencing (both for himself or for his son).
The maximum latest development is that on Monday morning, Flynn’s lawyer Robert Kelner met with Mueller’s crew, consistent with ABC News. It’s nonetheless now not completely confirmed that they’re discussing a cooperation deal, however, it seems to be a robust possibility. Whether they’ll arrive at this kind of deal and what it might entail remains uncertain.
More White House aides will reportedly be interviewed quickly
But Mueller’s group isn’t handiest investigating what came about during the campaign. They’re additionally searching for whether or not President Trump tried to obstruct justice as soon as in office — and that they’re asking White House staffers to provide sworn statements approximately what they may understand.
White House senior adviser Stephen Miller — who’s very near each Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions — changed into currently interviewed by Mueller’s team, CNN suggested. Former White House aides Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer had been each puzzled in October.
At these classes, aides had been reportedly questioned approximately Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey earlier this 12 months, and about the White House’s reaction to Russia-related news stories.
Now at the least 3 other aides are reportedly subsequent on the docket for questioning: communications director Hope Hicks, White House counsel Don McGahn, and communications aide Josh Raffel.
Hicks has been a part of Trump’s internal circle because he launched his marketing campaign and will have beneficial records about a host of subjects, each from before the election and now. McGahn, in the meantime, will probably be requested about simply what he did after he became informed that Flynn has been giving fake facts approximately his contacts with Russians, in addition to different matters.
But Mueller’s interest in interviewing Raffel, an aide with a far lower profile, is especially interesting. That’s because Raffel is quality recognized for working intently with Jared Kushner — that may endorse that Mueller is intently scrutinizing Kushner’s sports.
Finally, there’s been a major new development in an information table that’s a bit some distance afield from Mueller’s research — however that would grow to be associated with it.
This is the separate case of Reza Zarrab, a really wealthy 34-yr-vintage gold trader who has dual Turkish-Iranian citizenship and near ties to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s internal circle.
Federal prosecutors indicted Zarrab in 2016 for what they alleged was his participation in a large scheme to steer clear of US sanctions on Iran by delivery gold to the usa in trade for oil and herbal fuel. Prosecutors also allege that excessive-ranking Turkish government officers have been worried and took hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bribes. Nine humans were finally indicted, but only two — Zarrab and banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla — have been ever in US custody.
It’s long been clear that Erdogan clearly, absolutely did not need Zarrab’s prosecution to go ahead — and he’s waged what the Washington Post’s David Ignatius known as an “exceptional” campaign to try and forestall it. This blanketed public denunciations of the fees as a plot in opposition to his regime, non-public lobbying of Presidents Obama and Trump (and other administration officials) to try to get Zarrab launched, and an unusual meeting in Turkey with Rudy Giuliani (who’d joined Zarrab’s prison group earlier this year). The obvious explanation, of the path, is that Erdogan fears Zarrab ought to implicate his own near associates or circle of relatives individuals.
The Turkish president’s attempt to get Zarrab off the hook, it’s now clear, has failed. Zarrab has grown to be a cooperating witness for the USA government as part of a plea deal, a prosecutor showed in court docket Tuesday. He is anticipated to take the stand on Wednesday because the case moves ahead.
What ought to tie this remember to Mueller’s probe, even though, is an ability connection to Michael Flynn.
Flynn has already admitted that he was paid by way of Turkish interests while advising Trump at some stage in the presidential campaign. But latest reports have cautioned that Mueller’s team is examining whether or not Flynn persisted to behave on Turkey’s behalf throughout the transition, whilst he became the countrywide safety adviser-in-waiting, and all through his short stint within the White House earlier than his firing in February — and whether he may also were promised tens of millions of greenbacks in return.