UPDATED 11:35pmEDT — It’s Mueller Time!
A federal grand jury in Washington, DC, on Friday approved the first charges in the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, according to sources briefed on the matter.
The charges are still sealed under orders from a federal judge. Plans were prepared Friday for anyone charged to be taken into custody as soon as Monday, the sources said. It is unclear what the charges are.
And Reuters confirms the CNN story.
But wait — Friday afternoon brought three other developments which suggest that the Mueller has a lot of work — and grand juries and charges — to come.
About this afternoon’s New York Times scoop about the meeting between Russian spies and members of the Trump presidential campaign — Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul J. Manafort, and possibly Donald Trump himself in person or by phone: there are three takeaways, the first two being that the meeting looks increasingly conspiratorial and felonious, and we now know that a certain “Russian lawyer” was in fact involved with active measures on behalf of her government.
Natalia V. Veselnitskaya arrived at a meeting at Trump Tower in June 2016 hoping to interest top Trump campaign officials in the contents of a memo she believed contained information damaging to the Democratic Party and, by extension, Hillary Clinton. The material was the fruit of her research as a private lawyer, she has repeatedly said, and any suggestion that she was acting at the Kremlin’s behest that day is anti-Russia “hysteria.”
But interviews and records show that in the months before the meeting, Ms. Veselnitskaya had discussed the allegations with one of Russia’s most powerful officials, the prosecutor general, Yuri Y. Chaika. And the memo she brought with her closely followed a document that Mr. Chaika’s office had given to an American congressman two months earlier, incorporating some paragraphs verbatim. The coordination between the Trump Tower visitor and the Russian prosecutor general … suggests that emails from an intermediary to the younger Mr. Trump promising that Ms. Veselnitskaya would arrive with information from Russian prosecutors were rooted at least partly in fact — not mere “puffery,” as the president’s son later said.
Veselnitskaya denied in a television interview on July 11th that she had any connection with the Russians.
The third takeaway? Consider these factors:
- The sudden announcement of “investigations” into Hillary Clinton being pitched in the media this week by the likes of Trump ally Devin Nunes and pro-Trump stooge Trey Gowdy are both big nothingburgers. The “e-mail” and “uranium” distractions have been a dud — except among Trump’s deplorable true believers.
- Several pundits and journos are getting a strong impression that Robert Mueller is preparing to make a big prosecutorial move before Thanksgiving. And his shop has been locked down when it comes to leaks.
The source for the Times scoop is either a highly-placed member of the intelligence community or a surrogate for same. And since Trump has occupied the Oval Office, these sort of “big boom” stories have preceded big Russiagate developments that have not been good news for Trump, his family, or his sycophants. So there is the second takeaway: a big move by Mueller is coming soon.
It may or may not coincide precisely with the failure of Congress to pass anything resembling “tax reform” (i.e. another huge, deficit-exploding tax giveback to the rich) — but once both of those happen, it is likely that you will see a large number of Republicans on Capitol Hill turn on Trump, dividing their caucus and possibly forcing Trump from office.
Reactions to the article concur that this is a yuuuge big deal, for example the best court document sleuth on Twitter:
Holy Sheetz Balls.
Best Friday News Dump, EVAH!!!
Siri, please order 1,000 boxes of Depends in XXL & deliver to 1600 Penn Ave
— Alt-SeanSpicer’sMic (@Alt_Spicerlies) October 27, 2017
And Eric Garland adds a detail that the Times missed:
Who’s pals with Chaika? Oh, that would be TRUMP BUSINESS PARTNER AGARALOV.
True opposition Navalny opposes them. pic.twitter.com/yRO468VHp5
— Eric Garland (@ericgarland) October 27, 2017
Buckle up. And we have two more breaking Russiagate stories!
Rebekah Mercer asked Cambridge Analytica to organize e-mails on Wikipedia stolen from Hillary Clinton:
Trump donor Rebekah Mercer in August 2016 asked the chief executive of a data-analytics firm working for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign whether the company could better organize the Hillary Clinton -related emails being released by WikiLeaks, according to a person familiar with their email exchange.
The previously undisclosed details from the exchange between Ms. Mercer and Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix show how an influential Trump supporter was looking to leverage the hacked Clinton-related messages to boost Mr. Trump’s campaign.
Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Mr. Nix emailed Ms. Mercer and some company employees that he had reached out to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to offer help organizing the Clinton-related emails the website was releasing. The new details shed light on the timing of Mr. Nix’s outreach to Mr. Assange, which came before his company began working for the Trump campaign.
Read it all here. And then take this in: a right-wing news site financed by a Marco Rubio backer originally approached Fusion GPS!
The opposition research project that ultimately produced the controversial Trump-Russia dossier was initially backed by the conservative Washington Free Beacon website, it was revealed late Friday.
Free Beacon editor Matthew Continetti said in a statement that the publication had retained Fusion GPS to “provide research on multiple candidates in the  Republican presidential primary,” as well as Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
Continetti’s statement denied that the Free Beacon “had contact with, knowledge of, or provided payment for any work performed by Christopher Steele,” the former British spy who produced the now-infamous dossier. The dossier, which was published by BuzzFeed in January, contained unverified and lurid allegations about dirt the Russians had on then-candidate Donald Trump and his campaign’s possible connections to Moscow.
Free Beacon’s connection with Fusion GPS was first reported by the Washington Examiner. According to the Examiner’s report, lawyers for the Free Beacon told the House Intelligence Committee that the website funded the opposition research project between the fall of 2015 and the spring of 2016.
Why do all the juicy news stories always seem to come out late on a Friday?