Multiple outlets tonight (Oct. 27) are reporting that Robert Mueller, the special counsel probing alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign and possible Trump campaign collusion, has made his first charges in connection with the criminal investigation.
The Wall Street Journal reported late Friday that at least one person was charged Friday. That person could be taken into custody as soon as Monday, according to the paper’s sources.
The charges were approved by a grand jury empaneled in Washington, DC by Mueller and his team of investigators and lawyers. They have been sealed by a federal judge; few know who has been charged, what specific charges have been filed, or when more information will be shared with the public.
Speculation among former Department of Justice officials and legal experts centers on the fact that news about these indictments has been leaked at all. “It’s unusual and would be a serious violation,” Matthew Miller, a former Department of Justice spokesman under the Obama administration, told The Atlantic on Friday evening.
Mueller’s investigation is taking place under the purview of deputy US attorney general Rod Rosenstein, following attorney general Jeff Sessions’ recusal, due to his involvement with the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.
As Matt Ford and Adam Serwer at The Atlantic explained:
At the heart of Mueller’s investigation is the extent and nature of Russian interference. U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in December that the Kremlin deployed cyberattacks and stolen documents in an effort to damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid and bolster Trump’s chances. Comey told Congress in March that part of the investigation’s purview included allegations that the Trump campaign had colluded with Russian government officials to undermine Clinton’s campaign. Trump has strongly denied he collaborated with Moscow during the election.
The likely next steps in the investigation now have many speculating that one of Trump’s campaign officials like former manager Paul Manafort, or former White House officials like National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, and/or members of Trump’s family, like son-in-law Jared Kushner, or Donald Trump Jr., could be preparing to surrender to federal agents as soon as Monday morning.
On Twitter, many are expecting Trump to continue what has appeared to be a pattern of sharing divisive, confusing, or altogether unrelated information, as he has seemed to do whenever the Russia probe rose to the top of the news cycle:
Trump’s defenders, including former White House operative Sebastian Gorka, have continued their campaign to investigate and remove Mueller from his post:
The anti-Mueller camp regularly divert attention back to claims that the Clinton campaign was complicit in Russia’s interference in the 2016, despite the fact that her campaign is not currently under investigation and that Donald Trump was the winner of the 2016 election.
On Twitter, many users are worried about the fallout from indictments and how the president may respond to them. There has long been speculation that Trump would fire Mueller, as he has the power to do, if and when the former FBI director’s investigation began to yield indictments and prosecutions, as they appear to have done tonight:
In a development that is possibly related, Dana Boente, US attorney for Eastern District of Virginia, resigned earlier today. Boente, who served as acting attorney general after Trump fired Sally Yates, has no direct connection to the Russia case, but the timing of his resignation has raised eyebrows, especially as it may, or may not, relate to any move to dismiss Mueller:
Boente has said he will stay on in his post until his successor is found.
Meanwhile CNN also reported that Trump has turned his attention back to his former opponent, Hillary Clinton, and sought to accelerate the release of the remainder of the State Department emails that fired FBI director James Comey had previously investigated and cleared of criminal activity:
As the news unfolds, Roger Stone, a long time time Trump confidant, is levying a bevy of attacks across the mainstream media landscape:
Of course, no matter how serious the charges or fallout for American democracy may be, all systems on joke Twitter continues to operate nominally:
This story was updated with further details reported by the Wall Street Journal.