Recent court filings suggest special counsel Robert Mueller is planning to indict additional Russians for crimes related to 2016 election interference.
Mueller has referred to “uncharged individuals” and “ongoing investigations” in the case involving Paul Manafort, and just last week sought to keep evidence restricted from Russians not yet charged but suspected of trying to “interfere with lawful U.S. government functions,” reported The Hill.
“My hunch is that we are going to see more indictments of Russians,” said Glenn Kirschner, former assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and now an MSNBC legal analyst.
The special counsel charged 13 Russians and three Russian firms last February with conspiracy to defraud the United States as part of a plot involving the Internet Research Agency, a so-called troll farm that manipulated social media to push divisive propaganda during the 2016 campaign.
Two Washington-based lawyers have been hired to represent Concord Management and Consulting, which allegedly funded the troll operation, and some legal experts believe Russia is hoping to obtain sensitive discovery documents from the U.S. attorneys.
Mueller objected last week to the company’s request for “sensitive” documents through pretrial discovery, and that court filing revealed that some U.S. government evidence had already been released as part of an apparent disinformation campaign intended to discredit the special counsel investigation.
The special counsel also argued that lifting restrictions on those documents, which are currently subject to a federal judge’s protection order, would expose evidence about “uncharged individuals and entities” suspected of possible crimes “like those activities charged in the indictment.”
Mueller wrote in that court filing that his information could jeopardize “sources, methods and techniques” used to identify those foreign suspects, and last month he also acknowledged an active grand jury probe related to that case.
More than two dozen Russians and six Trump associates have been charged as part of the special counsel investigation, and a dozen more Russian intelligence officers have also been charged with hacking the Democratic National Committee and U.S. election infrastructure.
Acting attorney general Matt Whitaker has said Mueller’s probe was “close” to completion, echoing comments by the president’s personal attorneys, but legal experts say “all outward signs” suggest the investigation was “still active and ongoing.”
“I think there is reason to believe something else is coming, Randall Eliason, a George Washington University law professor, told The Hill. “I just don’t see any outward signs this investigation is close to wrapping up.”