According to various mainstream media figures this week, Special Counsel Robert Mueller was all but certain to drop a bombshell Friday that would shake Washington, D.C., to its core. It didn’t happen.
NBC’s Meet the Press host Chuck Todd on Thursday kicked off the Mueller “bombshell” frenzy, warning viewers that Friday could go down in history as a turning point in the Russia investigation. “Here’s what I’ve learned about Bob Mueller,” Todd began. “Not a single person that has known him, been with him, worked with him, wouldn’t say that he would have ended this investigation if there was no collusion. He would have already ended this investigation.”
“We can’t tell that, though, until he tells us,” GOP ad-maker Brad Todd replied.
Daniella Gibbs Léger, senior vice president for communications and strategy of the Center for American Progress, surmised Mueller was unlikely to drop a bombshell until after the midterm elections. A major announcement prior to November would spark accusations of political interference for the special counsel, Léger predicted.
“I think he knows, more than anything, he keeps quiet between Labor Day and Election Day,” the NBC host hinted.
“I’m not missing work tomorrow,” added Todd. “I wouldn’t miss work tomorrow. Tomorrow is the last business day of the pre-Labor Day to Election Day window.”
Todd, seemingly unable to help himself from further hyping the bombshell, concluded the panel discussion, asking, “Not to be totally cliché, but 5 o’clock tomorrow is a big deadline, isn’t it?”
Kyle Griffin, a producer for MSNBC’s Last Word, amplified Todd’s warning, tweeting an article about the NBC host’s remarks to his nearly 470,000 followers.
On Friday’s edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Axios executive editor Mike Allen picked up where Todd left off, but this time, provided more color as to who Mueller could target before the start of Labor Day weekend. Echoing discussions from Thursday’s Meet the Press panel, Allen predicted, with the midterm elections fast approaching, the special counsel may be motivated to make a major announcement today.
Axios national political reporter Jonathan Swan was “right in his question that there is speculation both about Roger Stone and Wikileaks,” Allen said. “Those were the two topics that were mentioned to me by lawyers close to this investigation when they talked about what might happen today.”
In a recent email sent to supporters, Stone, a longtime Republican operative and Trump ally, warned the special counsel will indict him next. “Robert Mueller is coming for me,” he wrote. “I’m next on the crooked special prosecutor’s hit list because I’ve advised Donald Trump for the past 39 years. I am being targeted not because I committed a crime, but because the ‘deep state’ liberals want to silence me and pressure me to testify against my good friend President Donald J. Trump.
As Breitbart News reported last week, Stone also predicted Mueller may soon indict Donald Trump Jr., President Trump’s eldest son, for a process crime.
“The special counsel is going to charge Donald Trump Jr. with lying to the FBI. Notice they’re not charging him for having an illegal meeting with a Russian at Trump Tower because there’s nothing illegal about that meeting,” Stone told James Miller of The Political Insider. “[P]ut more precisely, the only thing illegal about that meeting was how the woman got in the country, how she got a visa from the Obama State Department, and why she was meeting with an official from Fusion GPS before and after the Trump Tower meeting.”
Mic’s Eric Lutz raised the possibility that Mueller could drop a bombshell on Friday or up until September 7, citing the Justice Department’s unofficial policy of taking action within 60 days of an election. “[A]nalysts have suggested he may follow the 60-day rule to avoid the appearance of political bias, which President Donald Trump has repeatedly accused him of in his relentless broadsides against the Russia probe,” wrote Lutz.
In a statement to Politico, former federal prosecutor Peter Zeidenberg dismissed the notion that Mueller is running out of time. “In my opinion, absolutely nothing in this would prohibit or constrain Mueller from charging Roger Stone or anyone else connected to the Trump campaign in the next six weeks,” he said.
However, Team Mueller did score a victory Friday – albeit a small one – with the U.S. attorney for Washington announcing charges against Paul Manafort associate Samuel Patten for allegedly violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Patten is said to have been paid over $1 million for lobbying efforts on behalf of a pro-Russia Ukrainian political party referred to as the “Opposition Bloc,” between 2014-2017. The office of the special counsel referred the case to prosecutors in Washington.
Patten partnered with “a foreigner to place op-ed articles” in an American newspaper in 2017, the Justice Department alleges.
“The plea deal was handled by the DC US Attorney’s Office and the Justice Department’s National Security Division, not Mueller’s team, which is about to take former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to trial on a similar charge,” reported CNN. “The criminal charging document does not name Manafort or any of his colleagues in the US and Ukraine, though Patten may be connected to those efforts.”
As one can tell, Patten’s indictment is far from a bombshell.
Meanwhile, a new poll reported by Axios shows two-thirds of Republicans and one-third of independents believe it’s time for the Mueller probe to come to an end. Further, a whopping 80 percent of Republicans polled concur with President Donald Trump that the Russia investigation is a “witch hunt.”
The poll, commissioned by Public Policy Polling between August 27-28, 2018, possesses a margin of error of +/- 4.1%.
President Trump, among the special counsel’s most outspoken critics, warned during a campaign rally in Evansville, Indiana, Thursday evening he may get involved in the ever-expanding Russia investigation. “Our Justice Department and our FBI have to start doing their job, doing it right, and doing it now because people are angry,” the president said before a packed house of cheering attendees. “What’s happening is a disgrace and at some point – I wanted to stay out, but at some point, if it doesn’t straighten out properly, I will get involved and I’ll get in there if I have to.”
In an interview with the Daily Beast published Thursday, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani revealed he is putting together a “counter-report,” about Mueller’s illegitimacy as special counsel “There is no [secret] grand jury material here… It’ll be our report, put out on… personal stationery, and it would be in response to their report… We may have to use it in court, or [send to] Congress,” he told the news outlet.
According to Giuliani, the “voluminous,” report will be in “pretty good shape by next week.”