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Washington - Mueller Probe Leaves Many Witnesses In Limbo

Published on: February 13, 2018 10:00 PM
By: AP
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Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the special counsel probing Russian interference in the 2016 election, departs Capitol Hill following a closed door meeting, Wednesday, June 21, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the special counsel probing Russian interference in the 2016 election, departs Capitol Hill following a closed door meeting, Wednesday, June 21, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Washington - Over the last nine months, scores of men and women — some powerful and moneyed, others obscure and struggling — have crossed paths with special counsel Robert Mueller. So far though, just four have been charged.

The rest — a colorful cross-section of people, banks and businesses — are in limbo. Some fear they may yet be charged, but most are witnesses who have had their lives upended by a rush of questions about Turkish and Ukrainian lobbying, efforts to obtain hacked material, interactions with Donald Trump’s campaign and about every imaginable contact they’ve had with Russians.

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As Mueller’s inquiry has become hyper-focused on whether the president or people around him sought to obstruct justice, these lesser-known figures face a nagging question: Is Mueller done with them or not?

Sprawling white-collar investigations like Mueller’s nearly always involve a panoply of witnesses whose cooperation helps build cases, subjects whose actions are of interest to agents and actual targets in jeopardy of criminal charges. Nine months into Mueller’s investigation, it remains unclear exactly how many targets remain in the crosshairs or what will become of the people who have been questioned by the government but given no reassurance of whether their involvement in the case has been concluded.

People involved in the case describe bursts of frequent dialogue with Mueller’s team, followed by long stretches of silence, creating uncertainty about where they stand. That includes a cluster of people who prosecutors labeled as potential targets early in the investigation.

Washington criminal defense lawyer Barbara “Biz” Van Gelder, who is not involved in the Mueller investigation, said federal probes by their secretive and expansive nature can mean months and even years of scrutiny without any resolution.

“If there is a bank robbery, the government’s position is, ‘I can’t tell who’s an accomplice, who’s a co-conspirator — it could be the guard, it could be someone standing in the teller line, it could be a lookout,” Van Gelder said. “Everyone is put in the subject bucket until they have enough evidence or present enough evidence to get themselves out of the category.”

Among those in the balance: powerful Washington lobbyist Tony Podesta, who resigned from his namesake lobbying firm in the wake of Mueller’s scrutiny, and former GOP congressman Vin Weber of Mercury Public Affairs. Both have faced questions — and denied any wrongdoing — related to a Ukrainian-backed Washington influence campaign directed by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his associate, Rick Gates.

Dozens of others have been questioned, served with subpoenas or search warrants and provided information as part of the Manafort investigation.

Others have also weathered months of intense scrutiny because of their association with former national security adviser Michael Flynn. They include a Turkish businessman seeking to get a controversial cleric extradited, a former CIA director, a former director at the U.S. Export-Import Bank and several former military and federal law enforcement officials.

Now, months after the Manafort indictment and Flynn’s guilty plea, this group of people has been left in the unenviable position of waiting for signs of resolution.

Most people involved in the case have declined to speak publicly about their involvement in the Mueller investigation. A spokeswoman for Podesta and a lawyer for Weber declined comment as did several involved in the Flynn part of the Mueller investigation.

But a handful of people involved in the case who spoke with The Associated Press say they’re not asking the government for clarity. In their minds, no news is good news.

“Generally if they don’t want to talk to you, you don’t want to talk to them,” said one lawyer with a client in the case. So far, no one who spoke to the AP has said they’ve been given a formal declination letter informing them that Mueller won’t pursue charges. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

And even if defense attorneys asked, there’s not much anyone can do to force an answer from the government.

Even witnesses without risk of criminal jeopardy are “nonetheless at the mercy of the government” and its judgment, said another lawyer whose client has received a subpoena in the investigation.

A person who has been interviewed by the government recently described being afraid to open a lawyer’s bill, saying “even if you are a witness, every basic interview is costing thousands of dollars.”

The two waves of criminal charges brought by Mueller so far have each left unresolved questions. The first came in October against Manafort and Gates and a guilty plea from foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos. The second involved a guilty plea from Flynn on a charge of lying to the FBI.

As Manafort and Gates head toward a trial, a lawyer in the case said recently that it’s possible Mueller could file additional charges, but it’s unclear if they will involve anyone else beyond the two already charged. Both Manafort and Gates have pleaded not guilty and denied any wrongdoing. They are currently under a gag order, barring them from discussing the case publicly.

In the Flynn case, his plea agreement stemmed from lies he told during an FBI interview about conversations he had with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. The only mention of Turkey — and Flynn’s failure to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act — came in the last paragraph of the five-page statement attached to the agreement in a section for “other” false statements.

People involved in the Flynn case say they believe Mueller has moved on from scrutinizing the lobbying effort. But as with most things regarding the secretive investigation, they couldn’t say for certain.



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Read Comments (21)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Feb 13, 2018 at 10:17 PM hashomer Says:

Like a small time crook Tacky Trumpf keeps lying about everything incl porno girl payoff, no tax return, wife beater Porter etc. He hss no ethics or credibility. Mueller steamroller coming for Orange Yutz

2

 Feb 13, 2018 at 11:35 PM Benzahav Says:

So far nothing has been proven so you can I I know you hate trump and you can call muller a steamroller but I'm ready to bet with you that this phony muller investigation is going to turn out a big nothing as you see everyday a little more of the real story behind all this is coming out just wait and see

3

 Feb 13, 2018 at 11:41 PM rachelw Says:

Time for Mueller to pack it in and for POTUS to bill him and Rosenstein for the millions racked up in this sham investigation.

4

 Feb 14, 2018 at 05:38 AM simplelogic Says:

Reply to #1  
hashomer Says:

Like a small time crook Tacky Trumpf keeps lying about everything incl porno girl payoff, no tax return, wife beater Porter etc. He hss no ethics or credibility. Mueller steamroller coming for Orange Yutz

Hashomer, not trying to be rude to you but please stop posting and commenting like a child who heard something from his adult uncle on the way home from a bar mitzvah. Learn some spelling, grammar, and cleanse yourself from the liberal disease and then come back and give it another shot. Start with articles that require less intelligence and build yourself up from there. All your comments are childish, uninformed and straight up stupid. Stop pretending like your an intellectual that knows better. Will be checking up on you.

5

 Feb 14, 2018 at 07:34 AM Normandavid1 Says:

For how long can he go on without really showing something?

6

 Feb 14, 2018 at 08:15 AM Go get 'em Says:

Time to expand the investigation.

Mueller needs more resources. NOW!

7

 Feb 14, 2018 at 08:22 AM Educated Archy Says:

This is why we need a time limit . They shouldn't be allowed to shlep this out for years indefinitely. If there is a crime you should be able to find it within a year . All shlepping does is , that it allows muller to find a gotcha moment because nobody is perfect and make a tzimus about the gotcha rather than the crime .

That's the fake news Russian collusion . No criminal collusion and collusion ain't a crime but whelp it long enough and you'll find a time when trump sneezed once next to ruskies .

Perverted justice . Sad

8

 Feb 14, 2018 at 10:46 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
simplelogic Says:

Hashomer, not trying to be rude to you but please stop posting and commenting like a child who heard something from his adult uncle on the way home from a bar mitzvah. Learn some spelling, grammar, and cleanse yourself from the liberal disease and then come back and give it another shot. Start with articles that require less intelligence and build yourself up from there. All your comments are childish, uninformed and straight up stupid. Stop pretending like your an intellectual that knows better. Will be checking up on you.

The liberal disease is more like a mental disorder which can't be cleansed so easy.
He is suffering from an extreme case of TDS (Trump derangement syndrome).

9

 Feb 14, 2018 at 01:26 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #7  
Educated Archy Says:

This is why we need a time limit . They shouldn't be allowed to shlep this out for years indefinitely. If there is a crime you should be able to find it within a year . All shlepping does is , that it allows muller to find a gotcha moment because nobody is perfect and make a tzimus about the gotcha rather than the crime .

That's the fake news Russian collusion . No criminal collusion and collusion ain't a crime but whelp it long enough and you'll find a time when trump sneezed once next to ruskies .

Perverted justice . Sad

Uneducated Archy, you know how long the Watergate investigation took? Meuller in only getting started by comparison.

10

 Feb 14, 2018 at 01:44 PM yonasonw Says:

Reply to #3  
rachelw Says:

Time for Mueller to pack it in and for POTUS to bill him and Rosenstein for the millions racked up in this sham investigation.

Have you compared the costs of Mueller's investigation to those of Ken Starr's multi-year investigation of Clinton?

It remains to be seen where the Mueller investigation will end up; only partisan bias can lead anyone here to a declarative statement otherwise, one way or the other. That said, accuracy requires pointing out that the Mueller investigation has already net one guilty plea and two indictments...the Starr investigation net zero.

11

 Feb 14, 2018 at 02:35 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
hashomer Says:

Like a small time crook Tacky Trumpf keeps lying about everything incl porno girl payoff, no tax return, wife beater Porter etc. He hss no ethics or credibility. Mueller steamroller coming for Orange Yutz

So tell us, what do you think about his policies? It’s funny that you never mention those because in your heart, you know well that had a Democrat president ever accomplished what he has, you’d be calling him/her the best thing since white bread. So are you against tax cuts? His freeing Rabbi Rubashkin? His moving the embassy to Jerusalem and declaring it isreal’s Capitol? His tightening immigration security? His putting American interests before those of foreigners? His bringing back hundreds of thousands of jobs to America, and billions of dollars through co,pnaies moving back? Which of those are you against? Or is it just easier to make fun of his hair color? Try to make an intelligent point instead of just personal insults. Maybe then people here will respect what you have to say instead of assuming you’re an immature kid with a gripe.

12

 Feb 14, 2018 at 02:44 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #5  
Normandavid1 Says:

For how long can he go on without really showing something?

If you’re a Democrat, they’re hoping forever!

13

 Feb 14, 2018 at 02:34 PM Educated Archy Says:

Reply to #10  
yonasonw Says:

Have you compared the costs of Mueller's investigation to those of Ken Starr's multi-year investigation of Clinton?

It remains to be seen where the Mueller investigation will end up; only partisan bias can lead anyone here to a declarative statement otherwise, one way or the other. That said, accuracy requires pointing out that the Mueller investigation has already net one guilty plea and two indictments...the Starr investigation net zero.

Agreed the Satrr investiation was silly and so is this.

Gulity plea's had nothing to do with collusion. It was used a witchhunt against anyone who did business with the ruskies. And this is why this fake investigation needs to be put to a stop.

14

 Feb 14, 2018 at 02:36 PM yonasonw Says:

Reply to #7  
Educated Archy Says:

This is why we need a time limit . They shouldn't be allowed to shlep this out for years indefinitely. If there is a crime you should be able to find it within a year . All shlepping does is , that it allows muller to find a gotcha moment because nobody is perfect and make a tzimus about the gotcha rather than the crime .

That's the fake news Russian collusion . No criminal collusion and collusion ain't a crime but whelp it long enough and you'll find a time when trump sneezed once next to ruskies .

Perverted justice . Sad

You say "...This is why we need a time limit . They shouldn't be allowed to shlep this out for years indefinitely. If there is a crime you should be able to find it within a year . All shlepping does is , that it allows muller to find a gotcha moment because nobody is perfect and make a tzimus about the gotcha rather than the crime..."

Really? Let's compare the Starr and Mueller investigations...The facts are readily available for anyone to access...just Google the issues:

Ken Starr's investigation of Clinton took over 4 1/2 years, cost close to $80 million...and netted zero results. So far, the Mueller investigation has consumed less than 10 months, cost between $7 and $8 million, and has netted one guilty plea and two indictments...so far.

Your an analytical kind of guy...Starr's spending rate was almost $18 million per year...Mueller's so far is less than half that...and this does not take into account that Starr's costs are measured in 1998 dollars...and would be much larger in 2018 dollars.

So what's your problem? Just the facts, son...maybe you should be a little better educated. So sad.

15

 Feb 14, 2018 at 02:43 PM Zzzzz Says:

Reply to #10  
yonasonw Says:

Have you compared the costs of Mueller's investigation to those of Ken Starr's multi-year investigation of Clinton?

It remains to be seen where the Mueller investigation will end up; only partisan bias can lead anyone here to a declarative statement otherwise, one way or the other. That said, accuracy requires pointing out that the Mueller investigation has already net one guilty plea and two indictments...the Starr investigation net zero.

Your dishonesty is astounding. Ken Starr’s investigations didn’t result in as much as Mueller’s???? STARR’S INVESTIGATION RESULTED IN THE IMPEACHMENT OF A SITTING PRESIDENT! Only a liberal could make such an ignorant statement and actually believe they sound rational. And yes, many political experts have already concluded that Mueller has nothing criminal on Trump! If he had something, you can be sure it would’ve been exposed at some point in the last YEAR AND A HALF! I realize you’re still keeping your fingers crossed, just as your dishonest democrat leaders are, but just as you got snowflakes at the elections, you’re going to get snowflakes at the end of this farce of a witch hunt as well. Bank on it. Meanwhile I’d respectfully suggest you stop being so sure that Trump is doomed because you’ll end up with the same egg on your face as you did when your Hilary lost at the elections!

16

 Feb 14, 2018 at 03:55 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #11  
Anonymous Says:

So tell us, what do you think about his policies? It’s funny that you never mention those because in your heart, you know well that had a Democrat president ever accomplished what he has, you’d be calling him/her the best thing since white bread. So are you against tax cuts? His freeing Rabbi Rubashkin? His moving the embassy to Jerusalem and declaring it isreal’s Capitol? His tightening immigration security? His putting American interests before those of foreigners? His bringing back hundreds of thousands of jobs to America, and billions of dollars through co,pnaies moving back? Which of those are you against? Or is it just easier to make fun of his hair color? Try to make an intelligent point instead of just personal insults. Maybe then people here will respect what you have to say instead of assuming you’re an immature kid with a gripe.

Most of what you say is party-line propaganda, without a shred of substantive truth. Bringing back "hundreds of thousands of jobs" - really!

In terms of America's place and role in the world, rather than a narrow special interest politics of a type we scorn upon when practiced by others, freeing Rubashkin and moving the embassy is less significant than "making the trains run on time," "ending unemployment," and "eliminating national shame," heralded accomplishments of the Nazi and Fascist regimes in the 1930s. In other words...so what?

Other than Gorsuch's appointment and reverse Robin Hood Tax cuts and proposed budget, Trump has accomplished nothing...certainly nothing that will help either you or most other Americans.

17

 Feb 14, 2018 at 05:24 PM Educated Archy Says:

Reply to #14  
yonasonw Says:

You say "...This is why we need a time limit . They shouldn't be allowed to shlep this out for years indefinitely. If there is a crime you should be able to find it within a year . All shlepping does is , that it allows muller to find a gotcha moment because nobody is perfect and make a tzimus about the gotcha rather than the crime..."

Really? Let's compare the Starr and Mueller investigations...The facts are readily available for anyone to access...just Google the issues:

Ken Starr's investigation of Clinton took over 4 1/2 years, cost close to $80 million...and netted zero results. So far, the Mueller investigation has consumed less than 10 months, cost between $7 and $8 million, and has netted one guilty plea and two indictments...so far.

Your an analytical kind of guy...Starr's spending rate was almost $18 million per year...Mueller's so far is less than half that...and this does not take into account that Starr's costs are measured in 1998 dollars...and would be much larger in 2018 dollars.

So what's your problem? Just the facts, son...maybe you should be a little better educated. So sad.

Starr was a waste of money too.

And newt was playing around too don't forget.

I was never a fan of most of the anti Clinton bashing.

Guess what the e-mail investigations against Hillary were stupid too.

And do you know what was even stupider? Bengazai. But not for your reasons. The stupidty for Bengahzi was the fact that they never attacked Hilary for her complete botch up on Lydia. Bengahzai itself may have been just a silly mistake humans make although it cost lives. However, it should have been indicative of the entire Libya . After the Iraq debacle why didn't we learn our lesson? If you recall Obama (somewhat to his credit although the buck stops by him) did not want to get entangled in Libya. But Hillary the dumb bell pushed him. Well what was hIllary's day after plan ? And Gadaffi was finally abiding by his deals to chuck nuclear weapons. Is this how the USA rewards its allies? Bengahzai should have been a sign of how incompetent and sloppy Hillary was over the whole Lybia.

Sorry I went off topic but yes most investigations are silly including this one.

18

 Feb 14, 2018 at 06:15 PM Educated Archy Says:

Reply to #16  
Anonymous Says:

Most of what you say is party-line propaganda, without a shred of substantive truth. Bringing back "hundreds of thousands of jobs" - really!

In terms of America's place and role in the world, rather than a narrow special interest politics of a type we scorn upon when practiced by others, freeing Rubashkin and moving the embassy is less significant than "making the trains run on time," "ending unemployment," and "eliminating national shame," heralded accomplishments of the Nazi and Fascist regimes in the 1930s. In other words...so what?

Other than Gorsuch's appointment and reverse Robin Hood Tax cuts and proposed budget, Trump has accomplished nothing...certainly nothing that will help either you or most other Americans.

Nothing that will help either you

The tax bill has already helped me. My pay check is higher and job is more secure.

Rubashkin helped me. He is my brother

East Jeruasilim helped me.

Lifting the keystone and North dakota access pipeline regulations helps me. And so does other energy and financial deregulation. It brings down prices.

A muslim ban even a partial one helps me. It keeps me safe.


We are not scorned upon for sticking up for whats right. We are respected.

19

 Feb 14, 2018 at 06:47 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #16  
Anonymous Says:

Most of what you say is party-line propaganda, without a shred of substantive truth. Bringing back "hundreds of thousands of jobs" - really!

In terms of America's place and role in the world, rather than a narrow special interest politics of a type we scorn upon when practiced by others, freeing Rubashkin and moving the embassy is less significant than "making the trains run on time," "ending unemployment," and "eliminating national shame," heralded accomplishments of the Nazi and Fascist regimes in the 1930s. In other words...so what?

Other than Gorsuch's appointment and reverse Robin Hood Tax cuts and proposed budget, Trump has accomplished nothing...certainly nothing that will help either you or most other Americans.

"Accomplished nothing" you're insane or what? After 8 years of an economy in the doldrums under Hussain Trump reversed the trend in one year and we have a growing economy, But to left wing lunatics this is too much to comprehend.

20

 Feb 15, 2018 at 05:53 PM Ppppp Says:

Reply to #18  
Educated Archy Says:

Nothing that will help either you

The tax bill has already helped me. My pay check is higher and job is more secure.

Rubashkin helped me. He is my brother

East Jeruasilim helped me.

Lifting the keystone and North dakota access pipeline regulations helps me. And so does other energy and financial deregulation. It brings down prices.

A muslim ban even a partial one helps me. It keeps me safe.


We are not scorned upon for sticking up for whats right. We are respected.

Amen to all u said!!!

21

 Feb 20, 2018 at 09:18 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #15  
Zzzzz Says:

Your dishonesty is astounding. Ken Starr’s investigations didn’t result in as much as Mueller’s???? STARR’S INVESTIGATION RESULTED IN THE IMPEACHMENT OF A SITTING PRESIDENT! Only a liberal could make such an ignorant statement and actually believe they sound rational. And yes, many political experts have already concluded that Mueller has nothing criminal on Trump! If he had something, you can be sure it would’ve been exposed at some point in the last YEAR AND A HALF! I realize you’re still keeping your fingers crossed, just as your dishonest democrat leaders are, but just as you got snowflakes at the elections, you’re going to get snowflakes at the end of this farce of a witch hunt as well. Bank on it. Meanwhile I’d respectfully suggest you stop being so sure that Trump is doomed because you’ll end up with the same egg on your face as you did when your Hilary lost at the elections!

Articles of impeachment that went down in flames, my friend. Yoni was right this time.

22

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