Earlier this week it was widely reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is planning to make his big move against Donald Trump shortly after the midterm elections. Now Mueller is indirectly taking a Trump-Russia warning shot with a new indictment which, while not officially coming from his office, unmistakably has his fingerprints all over it – and the timing is not a coincidence.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia has indicted Russian operative Elena Khusyaynova. She’s part of Project Lakhta, which is backed by Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Prigozhin, meaning that you can draw a direct line from Khusyaynova to Vladimir Putin. Just as importantly, you can draw a direct line from Khusyaynova to Prigozhin’s company Concord Management, which was indicted by Robert Mueller earlier this year. In other words, this new indictment is clearly a part of Mueller’s Trump-Russia strategy, even if he has technically handed it off to EDVA. But the real upshot here is what she’s been charged with.
Elena Khusyaynova stands accused of having used social media to try to meddle in the 2018 U.S. election. That’s right, the one that’s about to take place in a few weeks. She’s not currently in the United States, so she hasn’t been arrested, and it’s not clear if she’ll ever stand trial. But the indictment alone will prevent her from ever being able to set foot in a nation that has an extradition treaty with the U.S., and so on. This kind of thing is a serious blow to a person whether they end up behind bars or not.
Robert Mueller and his allies are busting Khusyaynova for her low-level attempt at illegally meddling in the 2018 election, which probably wouldn’t have done anything to change the outcome anyway, as a warning shot to the Russian government that it had better not try anything serious in November. Once we’re past the elections and we see whether the Democrats have taken control of the House, Mueller will then know whether his best path is to hand off his findings for impeachment proceedings, or to try to indict Donald Trump directly.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report