Former acting solicitor general: If Mueller probe is a witch hunt, the special counsel has ‘found a coven’

News & Politics

President Donald Trump’s supporters in the right-wing media have often described Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe as a reckless “witch hunt” that lacks merit. Trump himself has used the phrase “witch hunt” countless times to describe the investigation. But Neal Katyal, former acting solicitor general in the Obama Administration, has a very different view. And when the attorney appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, he told host Chuck Todd, “If this is a witch hunt, Mueller has found a coven at this point.”

Mueller’s probe, Katyal noted, has so far resulted in indictments for “37 people” and “199 different counts”—and those indicted have included prominent figures in “Trump’s inner circle” such as Paul Manafort (Trump’s former presidential campaign manager), Michael Cohen (Trump’s former personal attorney and “fixer”) and Michael Flynn (Trump’s former national security advisor).

“Looking forward,” Katyal told Todd, “there are still targets: the smaller ones, like (journalist) Jerome Corsi, who said he’s going to be indicted—expects to be indicted. And then, some potentially bigger fish as well.”

Katyal also noted that Mueller’s probe led to George Papadopoulos (a former policy advisor for Trump’s 2016 campaign) pleading guilty to lying to the FBI. Mueller, Katyal recalled, “indicted Papadopoulos for lying about meeting with Russian agents.”

When Mueller issues his final report on the Russia investigation, it will first be presented to Attorney General William Barr. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California recently sent Barr an official letter urging him to share 100% of the report with members of Congress when it comes out. And Katyal, on “Meet the Press,” asserted that “there will be a lot more pressure on Mueller to give all of the information” in the report “to Congress.”

Katyal told Todd, “When you’re dealing with potential wrongdoing by the president of the United States,” Barr “has the discretion to turn that report over to Congress—and indeed, he has to.”

“Any sort of suppressed report about presidential wrongdoing,” Katyal added, would be problematic.

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