- There are 17 known cases and investigations into the president, his 2016 campaign, and Russian interference. As an end-of-the-year treat, WIRED‘s Garrett M. Graff rounded them up.
- Robert Mueller was appointed special council in 2016. The recent sentencing of Michael Cohen reveals that we are just starting to see the beginning of what Mueller has uncovered in more than two years of work.
- Many of these investigations – and their players – overlap. Trump’s world is, after all, being targeted by local, state, and federal prosecutors.
1. Investigations by the special counsel: The Russian government’s attack on the 2016 election
What we know: The best-known investigation headed by Mueller and his team has looked into the Russian government’s attack and interference on the 2016 election. This investigation is looking into data theft, the rigging of the US voting system and information influence operations by the Internet Research Agency.
What has been done: So far, Mueller has indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers, 13 Internet Research Agency workers, as well as three Russian companies and a man from California who aided their identity theft.
What comes next: We have yet to find out, among other things, whether any Americans knowingly contributed to the attack and the level of involvement by Putin himself.
2. By the special counsel: The WikiLeaks-Trump connection
What we know: Mueller is trying to find out whether WikiLeaks’ publishing of emails stolen by Russian hackers have any connection to Trump Tower.
What has been done: An aborted plea agreement from Jerome Corsi, a conservative author and conspiracy theorist, shows that Trump associates had at the very least some advanced knowledge of WikiLeaks’ plan. Both Corsi and former Trump aide Roger Stone expect to be indicted in connection to this investigation.
What comes next: Mueller is still trying to figure out how this connects with the charges WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange faces. In November, the Department of Justice began preparing to bring charges against Assange, who is currently seeking asylum at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. Assange likely faces charges related to the Espionage Act. It is unclear if Mueller is planning on filing charges separate from this in connection to the Russia investigation.
3. By the special counsel: Middle Eastern influence
What we know: Not much is known yet about Mueller’s investigation into Middle Eastern influence into the Trump campaign. The Daily Beast reported last week that more information might become available sometime early next year but so far, it seems the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Israel were quite eager to help with the campaign. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, is tangled in this one as he has both business ties to some of these players and was tasked with handling peace in the Middle East.
What has been done: So far, Mueller has filed no public documents regarding this investigation, but two key figures are cooperating. George Nader, an adviser to Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Trump associate Erik Prince have been talking to the counsel.
What comes next: Stay tuned for activity early next year.
4. By the special counsel: Paul Manafort
What we know: Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman, was convicted on eight felonies in connection to money laundering.
What comes next: Mueller is investigating Manafort’s associate Konstantin Kilimnik, who has been tied to Russian intelligence. Kilimnik was recently indicted for obstructing justice.
5. By the special counsel: Trump Tower Moscow
What we know: In November, Michael Cohen admitted that he lied to Congress about the Trump Organisation’s deal in Moscow, adding a ninth charge to his list of felonies and throwing another curveball at the president. Discussions over the multi-million dollar project went well into the presidential campaign. The lucrative deal connects Trump Organisation to Vladimir Putin’s office which was, at the time, already interfering with the election.
What has been done: Michael Cohen has been sentenced and continues to cooperate with investigators.
What comes next: Donald Trump Jr. might face legal trouble about his testimony over the Moscow project.
6. By the special counsel: Other contacts with Russia
What we know: There are many Trump associates that have been linked, one way or another, to Russia during the campaign and the presidential transition. The list, which has been pieced together by reporters all over the country, includes Jeff Sessions, Carter Page, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, George Papadopoulos, and Michael Flynn.
What has been done: Many of these players have already been contacted by the special counsel, who is also looking into a June 2016 meeting in which Trump Jr. met with Russian lawyers to get dirt on Hilary Clinton. Flynn and Papadopoulos have already pleaded guilty in connection to their campaign and transition contacts with Russia.
What comes next: Cohen and Flynn are still talking to Mueller about the campaign and transition’s connections to Russia. We don’t yet know what that means for Trump Jr. and Kushner.
7. By the special counsel: Multiple attempts at obstructing justice
What we know: By firing FBI director James Comey in the early stages of the Russia investigation, Trump might have attempted to obstruct justice. Not only that, many of his statements could potentially be considered attempts to mislead the public. Mueller may pick this up and make a strong case against the president.
What has been done: Not much, but WIRED reports that court documents show that Manafort and Cohen have provided useful evidence about this case.
What comes next: Should Mueller find strong enough evidence about obstruction of justice by the president, this could come in handy if Congress considers impeachment.
8. Investigations by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York: The Trump Organisation’s finances
What we know: We learned a lot from Michael Cohen’s sentencing memos. Prosecutors said Trump – identified in court documents as “Individual 1”- directed hush money payments to cover up affairs near the end of the 2016 election.
What has been done: Cohen has been sentenced to three years in prison. David Pecker – head of American Media Inc., which owns The National Enquirer – said he met with Cohen and “at least another member” of the Trump campaign to discuss how to hush the president’s lovers.
What comes next: Pecker and Trump Organisation CFO Allen Weisselberg are cooperating with investigators.
9. By the U.S. Attorney for the SDNY: Funding for the inauguration
What we know: The Wall Street Journal reported last week that prosecutors are looking into the $US107 million raised by Trump’s inauguration committee.
What has been done: Documents seized during the Cohen investigation have raised concerns about where the money for the inauguration came from, and where it went. At the very least, we know that Paul Manafort’s associate Sam Patten helped a Ukrainian businessman funnel $US50,000 to the inauguration.
What comes next: Unclear. There are no public filings regarding this case but we do know Patten is still cooperating with investigators.
10. By the U.S. Attorney for the SDNY: Where did the money for Trump SuperPAC Rebuilding America Now come from?
What we know: Rebuilding America Now, a Trump super PAC, is also under investigation following the news of the inauguration funding inquiries.
What has been done: The Times reported that prosecutors are looking into potential donations by foreign agents into the super PAC, which has been linked to Paul Manafort.
What comes next: As with the inauguration funds investigation, Sam Patten is cooperating with investigators.
11. By the U.S. Attorney for the SDNY: Foreign lobbying
What we know: Mueller was investigating whether three lobbyists – Tony Podesta, Vin Weber, and Greg Craig – failed to register as foreign agents for their work in connection to Ukraine.
What has happened: Muller handed his investigation of the three lobbyists to the SDNY in August. Greg Craig worked for Skadden Arps, a law firm that also employed Dutch lawyer Alex van der Zwaan, who pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his connection to Rick Gates.
What comes next: Gates is cooperating with investigators, according to WIRED.
12. Investigations by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia: Russian agent Maria Butina
What we know: Russian agent Maria Butina pleaded guilty last week to conspiring against the United States. During and after the election, Butina attended several conservative events and was photographed with conservative leaders. She was long suspected of working with a high-ranking Russian government official to infiltrate the National Rifle Association and influence American policy in favour of Russia.
What has happened: Because she pleaded guilty with an extensive cooperation agreement, Butina may now meet with investigators without having lawyers present.
What comes next: Butina’s boyfriend Paul Erickson, a Republican operative, is a target of the investigation. Butina’s case raises questions about the NRA’s connections to the 2016 campaign and its finances.
13. Investigations by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia: Internet Research Agency chief accountant Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova
What we know: Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, alleged chief accountant of the Internet Research Agency, was indicted in October for interfering with the U.S. political system by both Virginia prosecutors and the Justice Department’s unit that handles counterintelligence and espionage cases. According to WIRED, Khusyaynova was charged not only with interfering with the 2016 election but also attempting to interfere with this year’s midterm elections.
What has happened: Khusyaynova has been indicted for serving as the chief accountant of “Project Lakhta.” This Russian effort targeted audiences in the U.S. online. According to a Department of Justice press release, this conspiracy sought to conduct “information warfare” against the US through social media. Russian agents using fake social media accounts pretended to be American activists who shared “divisive social and political content” which advocated “for the election or electoral defeat of particular candidates in the 2016 and 2018 U.S. elections.”
What comes next: Project Lakhta is still under investigation.
14. By the U.S. Attorney for the EDV: Turkish influence
What we know: Court documents show Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security advisor, has cooperated with two investigations beyond the Russia probe. According to The New York Times, one of these two cases includes a grand jury in Virginia focused on Turkish government influence.
What has happened: Flynn has been sentenced and his plea agreement includes details on potential Turkish meddling.
What comes next: Flynn is cooperating with investigators and might have handed over many records from his businesses.
15. Investigations by New York and other attorney generals: New York Attorney General’s look into Trump’s taxes
What we know: The New York Times published an exposé in October that found Trump had benefited from more than $US400 million in tax schemes. The Times uncovered a complex series of transfers by the Trump family, facilitated by companies created by them.
What has happened: City officials and the state’s Tax Department said they were going to investigate Trump’s finances soon after The Times’ story came out.
What comes next: The investigations into potential fraud are ongoing. Incoming New York Attorney General Letitia James said she plans to ramp up state-level probes of the issue.
16. Investigations by New York and other attorney generals: The Trump Foundation
What we know: New York sued the Trump Foundation over the summer. According to The Times, the foundation faces charges of “violations of campaign finance laws, self-dealing and illegal coordination with the presidential campaign.”
What has happened: A judge has allowed the lawsuit to proceed.
What comes next: As mentioned, incoming New York Attorney General Letitia James has said she’ll push more wide-ranging inquires into the Trump Organisation.
17. Investigations by New York and other attorney generals: Maryland and D.C. Attorneys General subpoenaed Trump Organisation records
What we know: According to WIRED, the D.C. and Maryland AGs sent out subpoenas this month for Trump Organisation and hotel financial records.
What has happened: The AGs filed a lawsuit alleging the president breached the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which means he can’t accept payments from foreign powers while in office.
What comes next: We have to wait for the release of the records under subpoena, but the AGs’ lawsuit could make public information about how foreign governments have done business with the Trump Organisation. This could include the Saudi government’s purchase of more than 500 rooms at Trump’s hotel, which was reported by the Washington Post.
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