Former Obama Official On Russia Probe: ‘If This Is A Witch Hunt, Mueller’s Found A Coven’

Robert Mueller arrives at a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee.
Alex Wong / Getty Images

Former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal appeared Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press to discuss Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, The Hill reports.

The former Obama administration official discussed President Donald Trump’s tendency to label Mueller’s investigation as a politically-motivated “witch hunt.” Trump often alleges bias, insulting Mueller and his team of prosecutors who are, he claims, conflicted and partisan.

“If this is a witch hunt, Mueller’s found a coven at this point,” the former Obama administration official said.

While many disagree with President Trump’s characterization of Robert Mueller’s probe, it is undeniable that the special counsel is yet to charge or indict anyone for colluding or conspiring with Russia. Mueller was appointed to investigate the alleged coordination between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

As Axios reported, detailing every important event in Mueller’s two-year investigation, the special counsel has netted 37 indictments or guilty pleas, four prison sentences, and 99 criminal charges so far.

In October of 2017, Mueller indicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner, Rick Gates, on 12 counts of conspiracy against the United States, pertaining to lobbying work on behalf of the Ukrainian government and money laundering. Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos were also indicted in October, and subsequently pleaded to making false statements to the FBI.

In February of 2018, Mueller indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for interfering in the 2016 presidential election. The indicted individuals and entities spread false information online in an effort to sow discord, according to ABC News.

February was productive for Robert Mueller, as his team of prosecutors filed new money laundering and bank fraud charges against Manafort and Gates, and got Dutch lawyer Alex van der Zwaan to plead guilty about his contacts with the two men. In June, Mueller brought additional charges against Manafort, also charging his associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian national, for conspiring to launder money.

In July, Mueller indicted 12 Russian military intelligence officers, alleging that they had hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 presidential campaign. In November, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress. He was subsequently sentenced to three years in prison on charges related to tax evasion, false statements, and campaign finance violations.

The fact that Mueller failed to indict or charge anyone with colluding or conspiring with the Kremlin thus far, according to former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, does not make his investigation a witch hunt. The crimes these individuals have committed are, according to the former Obama administration official, nevertheless “crucial.”

“It’s a really thin read to say, ‘Oh, you’ve been indicted for obstruction of justice about Russian collusion and not the Russian collusion itself.’ I mean, some people denigrate these as so-called process crimes. But anyone in law enforcement knows, these are really crucial crimes,” Katyal said.