Now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has submitted his report and completed his investigative work, what happens to the ongoing criminal cases that originated out of his office? As it turns out, Mueller has already begun announcing the handoffs of his Trump-related criminal cases.
Robert Mueller’s office told CNN today that it’s handing off the Rick Gates criminal case to the U.S Attorney’s office for Washington DC. Gates pleaded guilty and cut a plea deal a long time ago, but because he’s been cooperating all along, he still has to be sentenced – and someone on the prosecutorial side has to handle those upcoming court proceedings. What’s interesting here is that when Gates is sentenced, the prosecution will need to file a memo detailing Gates’ cooperation. It’ll be public, except for any parts that relate to other ongoing investigations. But there’s more to this than just the Gates case.
Today’s announcement serves as a reminder that every one of Robert Mueller’s cases is either being handed off now, or has already been handed off. Michael Flynn hasn’t been sentenced yet. Roger Stone is still several months away from the scheduled start of his trial. Those cases will both be handed off to the relevant U.S. Attorneys’ offices. We’ll see more announcements along these lines, at least when it comes to the cases that are already in public view.
It’s also important to keep in mind that when Robert Mueller previously has handed off pre-indictment cases to other prosecutors, he hasn’t announced anything. For instance he handed the Michael Cohen case to the Feds at SDNY in secret, and the public didn’t find out the investigation existed until SDNY was ready to make the kind of moves that exposed the case to the public. For that matter, by all accounts, Mueller didn’t “recommend” to SDNY that Cohen be indicted; he simply handed them the case and let them make the decision based on the evidence.
So when we keep hearing today’s major media reports about Robert Mueller not indicting anyone else, and not “recommending” any more indictments, we’ve already seen Mueller send one of Trump’s people to prison without indicting him or recommending he be indicted. Even as Mueller publicly hands off his ongoing cases that are in public view, he’s also privately handing off any ongoing cases that aren’t yet in public view.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report