I have just learned that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has filed 15 sealed indictments over the past few months with the U. S. District Court in Washington, D.C. What does this mean?
The Grand Jury in Washington, D. C. has been meeting for almost 18 months, which is the life of a grand jury. Provisions exist in the federal court rules for documents to be filed "under seal", which means that only selected people, such as federal court judges and court clerks in charge of filing documents, can know about them. The documents are filed in sealed envelopes and kept separately from all other court filings. In my legal career, I have filed many documents under seal in federal court proceedings.
What these documents probably represent are formal indictments of certain individuals relating to the four areas of Mueller's inquiry:
1. Russian money laundering issues, especially relating to Donald Trump's businesses;
2. Collusion with the Russians relating to the 2016 Presidential election;
3. Obstruction of Justice relating to the same; and
4. Violation of the Emoluments Cause of the Constitution, relating to the intermingling of Trump's business interests with his work as President.
Who might be the indicted individuals? Here are my candidates:
1. Jared Kushner (Indictments 1, 2, 3 and 4 above)
2. Ivanka Trump (Same)
3. Donald Trump, Jr. (Same)
4. Eric Trump (Same)
Mueller likes to drop his indictments on Fridays, so Friday December 14, 2018 or Friday, December 21, 2018 seem to be likely dates. The latter date would be a delicious Christmas present for Trump-hating American citizens.
5. Roger Stone (Indictments 2 and 3 above)
6. Sam Clovis (Indictment 2 above)
7. Hope Hicks (Indictments 1, 2 and 3 above)
8. Reince Priebus (Indictment 3 above)
9. Jerome Corsi, Roger Stone's go-between re: Wikileaks (Indictments 2 and 3)
10. Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder (Indictment 2 above)
11. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions (Indictments 2 and 3 above)
12. Congressman Devin Nunes, R-CA (Indictments 2 and 3 above)
13. Congressmen Chris Collins, R-NY and/or Duncan Hunter, R-CA (Indictments 2 and 3 above)
14. Michael Cohen (Indictments 1, 2, 3 and 4 above)
15. Robert Trump, Donald Trump's brother (Indictments 1 and 4 above)
President Donald Trump will be shown as an Unindicted Co-Conspirator on indictments 1-4 above in court filings under seal, as will be Vice President Mike Pence on indictments 2, 3 and 4 above. This tracks what was done in the Watergate criminal proceedings, as President Nixon was named as an Unindicted Co-Conspirator. The Emoluments Clause indictment can only apply to Trump and his family; Pence's indictment here relates to conspiracy to aid in the President's violation of the Emoluments Clause.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is also listed as an Unindicted Co-Conspirator on Indictments 1, 2, 3 and 4 above.
When Will the Indictments Be Publicly Revealed?
Congress will be back in session from its Thanksgiving break this week, and is scheduled to adjourn for the year by Friday, December 14, 2018. However, since it is always behind in the work it must do, especially regarding various appropriations to keep parts of the U.S. government operating, and jamming through a number of judicial confirmations before yearend, the session may be extended.
Mueller likes to drop his indictments on Fridays, so Friday December 14, 2018 or Friday, December 21, 2018 seem to be likely dates. The latter date would be a delicious Christmas present for Trump-hating American citizens. The 116th Congress convenes on Thursday, January 3, 2019, with Democrats in the majority in the House and Republicans remaining in control of the Senate with slim majority. Almost certainly Mueller will drop these indictments before the 116th Congress convenes.
Should Acting Attorney General Whitaker attempt to fire Rosenstein and Mueller, or issue orders to them that they find unacceptable, they could refuse to obey these orders as being made by an illegally-appointed Cabinet officer. Mueller could also immediately seek an ex parte order (done without prior notice to the opposing parties) from the U. S. District Court in D.C. unsealing the indictments.
Shortly after the beginning of 2019, newly elected Speaker Nancy Pelosi will ask the House Judiciary Committee to begin the impeachment proceedings regarding President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Should they be impeached and convicted, or resign before the proceedings are completed, like President Nixon did, the next person in line for the Presidency would be sworn in as President.
That would be Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
May the games begin…