Special counsel Robert Mueller could issue new indictments in the ongoing investigation of President Trump’s campaign ties to Russia as soon as today, according to Raw Story. CBS This Morning co-anchor Norah O’Donnell tweeted a report from CBS correspondent Paula Reed indicating that Washington sources with knowledge of the investigation expect new indictments to be handed out soon.
The report also notes that acting Attorney General Matthew Whittaker is consulting with senior ethics officials on his responsibility to recuse himself from oversight of the Mueller investigation.
The special counsel investigation has so far issued 34 indictments since Robert Mueller took over in May of 2017. A total of 25 of those were Russian nationals, with another three Russian companies that were discovered to have participated in a coordinated effort to influence the 2016 presidential election. Four Americans have been indicted by the investigation, including Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former Trump adviser George Papadopoulos, and President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Whittaker will consult with Department of Justice ethics officials after public criticism of his appointment by President Trump raised doubts about his independent oversight of the Mueller investigation. Whittaker has had a long history of controversial and antagonistic remarks about the Mueller probe, according to Business Insider. Whittaker was appointed by President Trump after the president ousted former Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week, leading many to criticize it as a transparent attempt for the president to derail the special counsel.
“Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker is fully committed to following all appropriate processes and procedures at the Department of Justice, including consulting with senior ethics officials on his oversight responsibilities and matters that may warrant recusal,” a Department of Justice spokesperson said in a statement.
The moves come at a time when Manafort’s cooperation with the Mueller investigation has stalled, as reported by ABC News. According to the terms of his plea agreement, Manafort is required to cooperate fully with the investigation. However, after Whittaker was named the acting attorney general, the relationship between Manafort and the investigators began to break down after investigators questioned whether Manafort was being forthcoming with everything that he knew about information relevant to the Russia investigation.
“This was one of the biggest fears about Whitaker in law-enforcement circles,” a former senior Justice Department official who used to work with Mueller told Business Insider. “His appointment not only endangers the status of the Russia investigation itself, but it could have an effect on the cooperation of those who have already pleaded guilty and others who Bob Mueller may be working to flip.”