Friday Night Nov 27 News Dump: Mueller Has a Sealed Indictment....

Robert Mueller's First Charges
The special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation reportedly obtained a sealed indictment on Friday.

It’s the end of the beginning for the Russia investigation. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team has reportedly filed the first criminal charges as part of the sprawling inquiry into Moscow’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, CNN reported Friday night.

Citing “sources briefed on the matter,” the network said a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., approved the charges, which have been sealed by a federal judge.

No indicate who had been charged, how many people had been charged, or what charges had been filed by Mueller’s team. An arrest could come by Monday.

John Q. Barrett, a St. John’s University law professor and former associate special counsel in the Iran-Contra affair, said that a sealed indictment itself is rare, as is its disclosure to the press. “It's possible that this could come from sources in the Department of Justice or defense counsel, each of which would have been likely to know that charges were going to be sought and that a sealing order was going to be sought,” he explained.

“It’s unusual and would be a serious violation,” Matthew Miller, a former Justice Department spokesman under the Obama administration, said Friday night. “No one outside of the Justice Department or the court—including grand jurors, court reporters and such—should know, with the possible exception of the defendant’s attorney, who might have been briefed to arrange surrender.”

Friday Night Nov 27 News Dump: Mueller

After taking command of the investigation, Mueller absorbed a series of parallel federal inquiries, including one into Flynn’s lobbying payments from Turkey and another into former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s business dealings in Ukraine. Mueller is also reportedly investigating whether Trump committed obstruction of justice by firing Comey, as well as the nature of Donald Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with Russian nationals who claimed to have damaging information about Clinton.

With so many lines of inquiry, it’s impossible to know who could be facing federal authorities on Monday. In September, the Times reported that prosecutors on Mueller’s team told Manafort in August that he would be indicted during an early-morning raid at his Virginia home. Manafort, for his part, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing before or during the election.

In addition to all those topics, Rosenstein also authorized Mueller to pursue “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.” That would include the discovery of crimes unrelated to Russia, such as tax-related offenses that may be unearthed during a financial probe. Interfering in the investigation by lying to federal investigators or committing perjury before the grand jury would also fall under the terms of Rosenstein’s original letter.

The charges are still sealed under orders from a federal judge. Plans were prepared Friday for anyone charged to be taken into custody as soon as Monday, the sources said. It is unclear what the charges are.

A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment.

Under the regulations governing special counsel investigations, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has oversight over the Russia investigation, would have been made aware of any charges before they were taken before the grand jury for approval, according to people familiar with the matter.

On Friday, top lawyers who are helping to lead the Mueller probe, including veteran prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, were seen entering the court room at the DC federal court where the grand jury meets to hear testimony in the Russia investigation.

Reporters present saw a flurry of activity at the grand jury room, but officials made no announcements.

Sources for this article include:
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StevieRay Hansen Investigative Reporter for SrhNews.com and HNewsWire.com

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