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Hullabaloo


Thursday, March 14, 2019

 
Another clue pointing to an end to the Mueller probe

by digby



With the big news today that top Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissman is leaving the Special Counsel's office, everyone is assuming this means that Mueller is closing up shop. Marcy Wheeler points out that prosecutors have been leaving for quite some time. She has a timeline (of course.)

This is her analysis of what's going on with all that:

After each prosecutor has finished their work on the Mueller team, he or she has moved on. Weissmann’s departure is more final,since he’s leaving DOJ. But his departure continues a pattern that was set last summer. Finish your work, and move on.

Nevertheless, his departure is being taken as a surefire sign the Mueller investigation is closing up.

Let me be clear: I do agree Mueller is just about done with the investigation. He’s waiting on Mystery Appellant, possibly on Andrew Miller’s testimony; he may have been waiting on formal publication of Jerome Corsi’s book yesterday. Multiple other details suggest that Mueller expects to be able to share thingsin a month that he’s unable to share today.

None of that tells us what will happen in the next few weeks. There is abundant evidence that Trump entered into a quid pro quo conspiracy with Russia, trading dirt and dollars for sanctions relief and other policy considerations. But it’s unclear whether Mueller has certainty that he’d have an 85% chance of winning convictions, which is around what he’d need to convince DOJ to charge it. There is also abundant evidence that Trump and others obstructed the investigation, but charging Trump in that presents constitutional questions.

If Mueller does charge either of those things, I’d still expect him to resign and either retire or move back to WilmerHale and let other prosecutors prosecute it. That’s what Leon Jaworski did in Watergate.

The far more interesting detail from Carrie Johnson’s Weissmann report is that just some of Mueller’s team are returning to WilmerHale.
WilmerHale, the law firm that Mueller and several other prosecutors left to help create the special counsel team, is preparing for the return of some of its onetime law partners, three lawyers have told NPR in recent weeks.
I’m far more interested in the plans of James Quarles (who has been liaising with the White House and so presumably has a key part of the obstruction investigation) or Jeannie Rhee (who seems to have been overseeing the conspiracy investigation) than Mueller or his Chief of Staff, Aaron Zebley. Their plans might tell us more about what to expect in the next month (though Rhee appeared in Roger Stone’s status hearing today, and may be sticking around for his prosecution, which just got scheduled for November 5).

In any case, though, we don’t have long to wait, so it’s not clear that misreading the departure of Weissmann — which is better understood as part of the normal pattern of Mueller’s prosecutors leaving when they’re done — tells us anything useful.
I think it makes sense that these prosecutors who were tasked with specific pieces of the inquiry are being released back into the wild after what has likely been a grueling couple of years once their tasks are complete. And I have always heard that Mueller as a prosecutor did not believe in long meandering investigations and liked to get them buttoned up as quickly as possible.  I never heard he wasn't thorough so one assumes he wouldn't do it prematurely.


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