Some of the ways to consider what Mueller’s wrapping up may mean. This goes to the question about what about all the loose ends (culled from article - Stone prosecution, mystery Company A, Andrew Miller’s testimony, Jerome Corsi, George Nader’s cooperation, mysterious Seychelles Mtg w/ Erik Prince AND obstruction of Justice)
In some ways, that report helps illustrate just what we might expect in the hours, days, weeks, or months ahead as Mueller “wraps up.” In broad strokes, there are seven scenarios that “Mueller wrapping up” could really mean:
1. Mueller sends the attorney general a simple “declination letter,” telling Bill Barr that he’s concluded his work as special counsel; that the related grand jury has charged all identified crimes worthy of prosecution; and that there are no further cases to come. In some ways, a letter this simple—which itself would represent a stunning anticlimax to the most politically charged investigation in modern American history—would be the most “Mueller-like,” an understated and quiet end to the probe by a man who has always preferred to let his work speak for itself. If Mueller stops here, with no further meaty comment or additional charges, his probe will still rank as one of the most significant and eye-opening counterintelligence probes in our history, even though it would have failed to identify any direct “collusion” between Trump and Russia.
2. Mueller compiles a detailed “road map,” providing Congress with an annotated bibliography or an index of sorts, outlining impeachment-worthy presidential “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Lawfare’s Benjamin Wittes and others [pried out](Lawfare recap of Watergate procedures) of the National Archives the analogous document that the Watergate special prosecutor created to help Congress charge President Nixon; it’s a detailed guide to evidence and grand jury testimony that could inform an impeachment trial. This might be the most compelling conclusion for Mueller if he’s abiding by the Justice Department’s policy that the sitting president can’t be indicted, but he has identified criminal behavior by the president himself. It may be similarly attractive if Mueller has found compromising actions by the president that fall short of a chargeable federal crime, but that nonetheless represent political behavior or collusion that a healthy democracy cannot abide in its leaders or candidates.
3. Mueller authors a detailed novelistic narrative, akin to what the 9/11 Commission [wrote](911 commission Report) or what Ken Starr [authored](Starr Report on Clinton) at the conclusion of his Whitewater hearing, a document that could stretch to hundreds of pages and provide in rich, narrative detail—with footnotes aplenty—the be-all and end-all story of the Russians’ impact on the 2016 election and the role that Trump associates may or may not have played in that. While this document is most similar to what many Americans have long believed the “Mueller report” would look like, in some ways this seems the least likely outcome simply because it’s the most sweeping, which would go against Mueller’s inherent instincts.
4. He offers both a final round of “his” indictments, as well as a detailed report like in 2 or 3 above. Mueller’s [existing court filings]Wapo What Mueller knows & Isn’t saying point to the idea that he’s considering or building toward a final overarching conspiracy indictment, one that connects Americans to the Russian attack on the election—either via WikiLeaks, Russian intelligence asset Konstantin Kilimnik, or other avenues. If this is the final outcome, it’s possible that Mueller already has told us precisely what he’s doing. After all, last summer’s GRU indictment began with the charge that “GRU officers … knowingly and intentionally conspired with each other, and with persons known and unknown to the Grand Jury (collectively the “Conspirators”), to gain unauthorized access (to “hack”) into the computers of US persons and entities involved in the 2016 US presidential election, steal documents from those computers, and stage releases of the stolen documents to interfere with the 2016 US presidential election.” That language could easily encompass Americans who participated, and since both the GRU indictment and the IRA indictment are “conspiracy” cases, Mueller could wrap up by simply filling in some more of those “persons known … to the Grand Jury,” e.g., Americans who participated in the plot.
5. He offers a report, but not the report, something more like a progress report rather than a single, definitive one. This scenario could also include multiple reports—concerning perhaps not just the Russian probe but broader investigations into foreign influence in Washington. The Daily Beast hinted in December that Mueller was preparing a special report on Middle Eastern influence in the 2016 election, which might or might not be separate from the question of Russian influence in the campaign. This progress report could also announce that’s he finished investigating the “Big Question” (the extent of Russia’s role in the 2016 election) but that he intends to continue sorting through ancillary matters—like, for instance, the Roger Stone case, the House witness transcripts, or the foreign mystery defendant—for perhaps months or even years.
6. He closes up shop but refers numerous active cases to other prosecutors —similarly ensuring that his probe lives on for years to come. Again, this could be because he feels like he’s answered his main charge—Russia—even though he’s uncovered much ancillary criminality. Schiff has begun [hinting](WaPo Entering New phase of Mueller’s investigation) in recent weeks that he feels Mueller has been too narrow in his investigation, and that he intends to dive deep into Trump World’s money laundering and [past business deals](New Yorker -Schiff’s plan to obliterate T’s red line.). The special counsel construct and mission was [never perfect](Atlantic - Special Prosecutor is not the answer/)—and Mueller, if the Ray Rice case is a guide, may indeed have interpreted his charge narrowly, leaving big and worthy questions to be examined by prosecutors in DC, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and elsewhere. The US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and counterparts in DC and Virginia, already have picked up at least half a dozen ancillary cases among them.
7. Mueller unseals one or more long-standing sealed indictments. The media and bloggers have [regularly tracked](ABC News - Sealed indictments DC docket) the abnormally large number of sealed indictments filed over the last year in DC federal court, the jurisdiction where Mueller has been worked, including 14 added between August and November—a period where Mueller was theoretically “quiet” around the midterm election—and four recent sealed indictments that seemed to parallel the Stone indictment. Whether any relate to Mueller remains to be seen, but in some ways the idea of piling up sealed indictments would have been the smartest way for Mueller to ensure that if he was fired, his case lived on.
While the seven scenarios above capture the broad outlines of what the end of his probe might look like, the truth is that he could choose some of one and a bit of another, meaning that there are almost infinite variations of how the case could unfold from him in the days ahead.
It’s also worth noting that the Mueller probe—however it ends—represents a shrinking percentage of Trump’s potential legal troubles, as a total of at least 18 investigations surround Trump’s world, led by at least seven different prosecutors and investigators. (Since WIRED’s original tally of 17 distinct investigations in December, we’ve seen news of a state and federal probe looking at undocumented workers at Trump’s New Jersey golf club.) And all of that doesn’t count any of the work by the new Democratic-led House Intelligence Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s ongoing work, nor any of the other probes led by other House committees. Even a complete and total exoneration by Mueller on the Russia question would represent only a tiny ray of legal sunshine for the president.
Nevertheless, there’s good reason to believe that Trump won’t get that total exoneration, as Mueller’s conspicuous silences in court filings on the collusion question seem to indicate he’s building toward something. Let’s remember that there have been two immutable truths thus far in the Mueller probe: First, every move has surprised us, both in timing and content; and second, every court filing has been more informed, detailed, and insightful than anyone imagined, and shown us that what we knew publicly was only the tip of the iceberg. There’s no reason to think that Mueller’s denouement will be anything different.