Special counsel Robert Mueller appears to be entering the final stages of his sprawling investigation, but don't expect him to wrap up this week.
Under guidelines set out by the Department of Justice, Mueller must submit a report on his findings to the attorney general, but former federal prosecutor Nelson Cunningham wrote for The Daily Beast that the special counsel may issue a second report that can't be shielded from public view.
"From the very beginning, Mueller has worn two hats and borne two missions relating to the Russia investigation," wrote Cunningham, a former prosecutor for the Southern District of New York under Rudolph Giuliani.
"The most public and familiar one is as a criminal investigator under the special counsel regulations," he continued. "But Mueller has also carried a second charge, as a counterintelligence expert, with a much broader charge to determine and report the scope of any interference and any links to the Trump campaign — what Trump himself might refer to as 'collusion.'"
The Russia probe began as a counterintelligence investigation, and Mueller was then tasked with uncovering whether any crimes were committed.
The central mission of a counterintelligence investigation is to produce a report, Cunningham argued, which will be shared with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and relevant agencies of the 17-member intelligence community.
One of those reports, “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections,” was shared in early January 2017 with incoming President Donald Trump.
That particular report publicly revealed that Vladimir Putin had personally directed efforts to undermine Hillary Clinton's campaign to aide Trump, and Mueller's counterintelligence report would also become public.
"By statute it must be shared with Congress," Cunningham wrote. "The House and Senate intelligence committees are legally entitled to be given reports, in writing, of significant intelligence and counterintelligence activities or failures. Mueller’s findings will certainly qualify."