Ex-lawyer for Trump official explains why the president's allies should be concerned: ‘If they’re breathing easy right now — they’re very foolish’
Last week, speculation abounded that newly appointed Attorney General William Barr was preparing to release special counsel Robert Mueller's report as soon as this week. That speculation has since been dampened by a Justice Department official confirming that will not happen — but even so, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has suggested Mueller's full findings will not even be made public.
But even if Mueller's report does come out soon, and what is released to the public or Congress does not implicate the president or his family in any meaningful way, that is no cause for Trump and his allies to think they are in the clear, a defense lawyer close to the case told POLITICO.
"If anyone in Trump world is breathing easy right now, I'd say they are very foolish," said Shanlon Wu, who previously defended former Trump campaign deputy chairman Rick Gates. "Even if Mueller's report were to appear and didn't implicate the president, all these other criminal investigations will continue. That's not going to be the magic bullet that solves everything. I'd be very concerned if I was a lawyer or a potential target in that world right now."
Mueller, who was appointed to take over the FBI's Russia investigation after Trump tried to interfere with it, has a specific mandate: investigate contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia, and prosecute criminal activity that arose from or was uncovered in the course of that investigation. From that probe, Mueller has indicted or convicted over 30 U.S. and Russian individuals and businesses, including former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, and former Trump adviser Roger Stone. Consequently, the Mueller probe has attracted most of the public's attention, and most of Trump's ire.
But in fact, the Mueller probe is just a small portion of the legal jeopardy surrounding Trump's presidency. Prosecutors with the Southern District of New York are probing the president's finances, his inaugural fund, and deals with his former personal attorney Michael Cohen. State officials in New York just shut down Trump's charitable foundation amid a tax fraud investigation, and other prosecutors are reportedly ready to bring state charges to nullify a potential pardon of Manafort. Sealed indictments in a federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., could potentially bring more charges for Trump associates. Meanwhile, Democrats in the House are preparing round after round of investigations of Trump and his Cabinet, and are sending transcripts to the Justice Department that could show Trump's allies lied under oath.
The endgame of the Mueller investigation is important. But it is not the end of Trump's problems.