Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation has now traveled so deep and wide and in so many directions, it can be difficult to figure out precisely where he’s heading next. We all know this ends on Donald Trump’s doorstep, but how does Mueller plan to get from here to there? It turns out Mueller has a sort of “Top Ten” list of names that he’s been including in recent Trump-Russia grand jury subpoenas – and they’re all familiar names, though some of them are more surprising than others.
Mueller is seeking all communications the subpoenaed witnesses may have had with ten people in particular, according to a copy of a subpoena obtained by Axios reporter Jonathan Swan. We’ll post the list of names, and then we’ll tell you what’s important about the inclusion of these specific names: “Carter Page. Corey Lewandowski. Donald Trump. Hope Hicks. Keith Schiller. Michael Cohen. Paul Manafort. Rick Gates. Roger Stone. Steve Bannon.” It’s worth pointing out that these may not be the same names that are being sent to everyone who’s being subpoenaed. Also, Mueller is operating out of two different federal court districts. But some things obviously jump out here.
Robert Mueller would not be bothering to seek out records of communications with these ten people unless he’s actively investigating them for specific crimes he thinks they may have committed, or crimes he thinks they may have witnessed. Carter Page’s name has been linked extensively to Russia in general, and to the Trump-Russia scandal in particular, but up to now there has been no publicly available evidence that Mueller is pursuing Page with indictments or criminal charges. Lewandowski isn’t known to be under investigation by Mueller either.
It’s worth noting that Axios says this newly unearthed subpoena was sent “last month” (link) which could mean anything from five days ago to four weeks ago. This may have been sent before or after Steve Bannon spilled his guts to Robert Mueller, but it does tell us that Mueller was actively pursuing Bannon-related evidence at some recent point. Keith Schiller was with Donald Trump on his fateful “Pee Pee Tape” trip to Russia. Hope Hicks just resigned.
The upshot here is that of these ten people, we’ve thus far only seen Robert Mueller pursuing specific criminal charges or indictments against two of them, Gates and Manafort. Of course much of Mueller’s legal work remains secret until late in the game; he arrested George Papadopoulos four months before he allowed it to become public. But now it’s fair to ask if Mueller is looking to indict all of the above, either for committing crimes or refusing to cooperate as witnesses. Come to think of it, why is Jared Kushner not on this list? Does that mean he’s already flipped? Stay tuned.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report