Is Robert Mueller Compiling a Case Against Trump for Obstruction of Justice?
With President Donald Trump's legal team "in shambles" following resignations and amid an ongoing struggle to find replacements, the Washington Post reported late Tuesday that special counsel Robert Mueller has informed Trump's lawyers that he is compiling a report on the president's actions during his time in office, including possible obstruction of justice.
Citing anonymous officials familiar with the ongoing probe into possible collusion between Trump's presidential campaign and the Russian government, the Post noted that Mueller informed the president's attorneys of the report last month and "reiterated the need to interview Trump—both to understand whether he had any corrupt intent to thwart the Russia investigation and to complete this portion of his probe."
The Post also noted on Tuesday the special counsel has informed the president's lawyers that Trump is a "subject," though not yet considered a "criminal target," of the ongoing probe—a distinction that was reportedly met with relief by Trump and some of his top advisers.
But legal experts were quick to note that the president should not be reassured, given that the "subject" of an investigation can very quickly become a target.
As former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti observed in a Twitter thread on Tuesday, a subject is someone who a prosecutor doesn't intend to charge at the moment, and "federal prosecutors typically don't decide until late in an investigation whether they will charge a person who is under investigation."
4/ As a practical matter, federal prosecutors typically don’t decide until late in an investigation whether they wi… https://t.co/v6mNbcWQ3C— Renato Mariotti (@Renato Mariotti) 1522800824
6/ The prosecutor can just continue to collect evidence and make the decision to indict at a later time. That’s why… https://t.co/dPwjpBK9Ni— Renato Mariotti (@Renato Mariotti) 1522800990
"So all today's news tells us is that Mueller hasn't decided to indict Trump at this time. But if Trump's lawyers know what they're doing, they'll tell him that he's still under great risk," Mariotti concluded.