The Washington Post on Wednesday evening confirmed CNN’s reporting earlier in the day that the Justice Department is preparing for Special Counsel Robert Mueller to “end” his investigation and deliver a final report. And according to an adviser close to President Donald Trump, his close allies have “palpable concern” that the report could damage him politically, according to the Post.
However, this adviser reportedly said that Trump’s inner circle doesn’t believe a report will implicate the president in criminal conduct.
The Post also points out, though:
The end of the special counsel’s probe would not mean the end of criminal investigations connected to the president. Federal prosecutors in New York, for instance, are exploring whether corrupt payments were made in connection with Trump’s inaugural committee funding.
All of these findings should be treated with some skepticism. There seems to be a clear belief among officials in the Justice Department, as expressed through anonymous reports to news outlets, that Mueller’s investigation will be, in some sense or another, “wrapping up” soon. But it’s not clear exactly what this means, or if these officials actually have an accurate sense of what’s going on in Mueller’s investigation. The Post, though, does provide a new piece of information that does suggest the team is planning to disband: Some of the investigators on Mueller’s team have reportedly spoken to old bosses about returning to their previous jobs.
The idea that Mueller’s conclusions won’t have any criminal implications for the president has been a common refrain among people close to Trump, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that an adviser would say that. But it’s not clear that Trump or those he talks to would have reliable information about what’s coming.
The Post report does provide another new detail that may be enlightening about why Mueller is shutting down his investigation now, if indeed he is, even while there remain open cases and trials:
According to people familiar with the special counsel’s work, Mueller has envisioned it as an investigative assignment, not necessarily a prosecutorial one, and for that reason does not plan to keep the office running to see to the end all of the indictments it has filed.