With a stream of stories stating that the special counsel investigation led by Robert Mueller is soon going to end, there are a lot of possibilities. There could be a report. Or not. The next week could see a thundering truckload of fresh indictments. Or not. And the whole “investigation almost over” story could be a complete bust. Or not. But one thing is going to happen on Friday, and if some of the predictions about what happens next come true, it could be the last time the public gets a peek into the detailed workings of the special counsel investigation. Maybe ever.
As CNN reports, Mueller is due to have sentencing guidelines regarding Paul Manafort delivered to a federal judge before midnight on Friday. Those guidelines should include all the facts that the special counsel feels should be considered by the judge before Manafort receives his final sentence.
Previous court documents concerning Manafort have provided the best insight available to this point about how Mueller’s team has worked and what it has learned. That’s true in part because the charges against Manafort are so extensive and far-reaching, connecting Trump’s campaign chair to a Russian puppet-government in Ukraine and money-laundering for oligarchs bringing funds into the U.S. Another thing that’s made the case against Manafort a particularly rich source of information is that the former Republican strategist fought against the investigation at every step. His challenges to the validity of the investigation resulted in the public filing of a whole swath of information, not least of which was the news that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had specifically expanded the scope of the investigation to include Manafort’s Ukraine-related crimes. Then, because Manafort lied in his dealings with investigators, even more information was released simply to demonstrate the nature and extent of his deception.
Paul Manafort has been such a good source of information on the Mueller investigation simply because he’s been such a bad source of truth at every stage. And now this Manafort document represents the last certain court document related to the Mueller investigation.
Yes, there could be more indictments to come. Yes, there remain an unusual number of sealed indictments on the D.C. docket, some of which could still be ripped open to reveal Russia-related bombshells. But this last Manafort filing is a sure thing, and it could be a significant thing.
In other examples of these final sentencing documents, Mueller, like many prosecutors, has put together the closest thing to a “complete narrative” of the defendant’s actions. While other documents may have specifically addressed areas where Manafort challenged the investigation, or areas where it was clear that he lied to investigators, or the specifics of the charges he faced, this final document could be the technicolor version — the A-to-Z of everything Manafort did that’s likely to keep him locked up for the rest of his life.
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