Federal prosecutors working for special counsel Robert Mueller on Saturday released a sentencing memo for former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. But the memo did not follow Mueller’s past practices of including many details which could have shed light on who Manafort was conspiring with when he worked with Russia to help Donald Trump win the presidency in 2016.
Why didn’t Mueller give more details in yesterday’s filing?
As we wrote yesterday,
“It is possible that Mueller is just keeping his powder dry and he doesn’t need to show any of his evidence of Russia collusion with this filing, but people who were breathlessly hyping this sentencing document might be a little disappointed.”
But, as national security and intelligence journalist Marcy Wheeler explained, it is also possible that Mueller may have revealed in the filing that he believes he will be able to release his final report to Congress and to the American people.
When Trump appointed Matt Whitaker as acting Attorney General, there was concern that he received the position to kill the Mueller investigation, or at least prevent his final report from seeing the light of day. The same concerns have come up with respect to Trump’s new attorney general, William Barr.
Because of the fear that Trump, Whitaker and/or Barr would keep his final report secret, in the past, Mueller has effectively made his report public with each indictment and sentencing memorandum.
These past indictments and memos have been very lengthy and very detailed. Prosecutors call these “speaking indictments” because they give all the information to explain why the person is being charged with crimes.
Mueller has accused 5 Trump flunkies of lies that go to core of investigation: Papadopoulos, Flynn, Cohen, Stone, and Manafort. This Manafort memo is first time he has withheld the significance of it. https://t.co/h3e5Q8le2K
— emptywheel (@emptywheel) February 24, 2019
As Wheeler wrote:
“At each step of his investigation, Mueller has chosen to submit far more details into the public record than necessary, effectively issuing a report of his work along the way.”
“Compare the decision to keep that stuff secret with what Mueller did in the George Papadopoulos, Mike Flynn, Michael Cohen, and draft Jerome Corsi pleas, and Roger Stone’s indictment. In each of the other accusations of lying, Mueller laid out juicy details that pointed to key details of the investigation.”
However, Mueller deviated from his approach in the most recent court filing. Mueller could have included much more information in the Manafort sentencing memo, but chose not to.
And here is why, according to Wheeler:
“Here, in a case where they legitimately considered charging Manafort with more false statements charges, they chose to keep precisely the kind of stuff they had disclosed in other false statements accusations secret.”
“And by choosing to leave the record where it stands — by choosing not to describe what the evidence shows regarding that August 2 meeting in this sentencing memo — Mueller has deviated from the approach he has taken in every other instance (including this one, as it pertains to Manafort’s Ukrainian lobbying) where he had an opportunity to provide a speaking document.”
Mueller Believes His Final Report Will Be Made Public
The absence of details in yesterday’s filing leads to a stunning conclusion. By not presenting details now, it means Mueller believes he will be able to present the details later to the public, in his final report.
According to Wheeler:
“If Mueller believed he could not present a substantive final report now, he could have presented those details in unredacted form.”
“This means he’s certain he will be able to provide a report in some public form, presumably in the same kind of detail he has presented in all his other statements.”
Congress Will Be Given All of Mueller’s Evidence Files
In an article published yesterday, we noted that legal experts believe that Congress will be required to have access to all of Mueller’s evidentiary files.
So, even if the special counsel gives his report to Attorney General Barr and Barr tries to keep it from public view, Congress will still have access to the evidence upon which the Mueller report is based.
And yesterday’s filing shows that Mueller is confident that his report will be made public. If he didn’t have this confidence, then he could have used yesterday’s filings to disclose much more information, as he has done in past “speaking indictments” and detailed sentencing memos.
All of this leads to one simple conclusion: All of Mueller’s conclusions and evidence will be made public, and when that happens it will destroy Donald Trump.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.