So much for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation “winding down.” One of Mueller’s key cooperators, former Donald Trump campaign vice chairman Rick Gates, came up for sentencing today. Mueller and Gates jointly asked the judge for a sixty day delay, because Gates is still actively cooperating. This is a big deal.
Robert Mueller told the courts a few months ago that his work was complete with his other key cooperator, Michael Flynn. This came despite the fact that Flynn’s former business partner is just now headed to trial. So it’s not as if Mueller is keeping all of his cooperators on board just in case they have to testify at trials. He has a reason, and a big one, for specifically keeping Rick Gates in the fold for another two months. It logically has to be about an ongoing investigation.
So what ongoing investigation are we talking about here? Rick Gates was closest with Paul Manafort, but Mueller is now 100% done with Manafort. In fact, Mueller and his allies have already taken down the key Trump campaign players, including Manafort, Flynn, Michael Cohen, and George Papadopoulos. At this point the still-unfolding investigations appear to be more centered around the Trump administration and Trump transition team. Gates never worked in the administration, so that leaves us with the transition team.
So the clues strongly point to Robert Mueller actively investigating key players involved in the Trump transition team and the inauguration. Donald Trump fired Chris Christie as the head of the transition team and replaced him with Mike Pence. A recent book asserts that Trump specifically did this so he could embezzle the donations that had been made for the inauguration. This would only have made sense if Pence was criminally complicit. Is Pence the target?
In any case, the biggest clue of all here may be that while sentencing hearings are usually delayed by ninety days by default, in this instance Robert Mueller is asking for just sixty more days with Rick Gates. This seems to suggest that Mueller expects his current Gates-related investigation to be safely concluded, complete with any corresponding indictments, within sixty days and not ninety.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report