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Seth Abramson @SethAbramson
, 16 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
Great article, though we must remember that references to a Mueller "endgame" ultimately serve only to drive up interest in an article—all the evidence suggests that Mueller is months (at least) from completing his work. When we pretend otherwise, we wrongly encourage impatience.
2/ Six times before, major media has run with stories saying the Mueller probe is almost over—and each time the sources turned out to be (a) Trump's lawyers, and (b) lawyers for grand jury witnesses, neither of which have any basis for a broader knowledge of the probe's timeline.
3/ Prosecutors may tell a lawyer they're "tying up loose ends," but either a) that's a euphemism for what prosecutors are always doing, b) that statement only applies to one lawyer's client, or c) in a three-year federal probe, even six more months could be "tying up loose ends."
4/ Cohen was just questioned for 60+ hours by federal investigators; Manafort—before he blew up his cooperation deal—talked with them for 50+ hours. Reports say Don Jr., Stone, Credico, and Corsi may be close to indictments. *Nothing* here says this ends "in the next few weeks."
5/ I think the country's impatience is prompting many journalists to ask—and many journalists to want to answer—what feels like the big question: When will this be over? But the fact is, for a federal investigation of this size and scope, we're really only in the middle innings.
6/ Isikoff is right, though, that the sentencing memos we expect to see this week—Flynn (Tuesday), Manafort (Friday) and Cohen (Friday)—will tell us a lot, if by no means everything, about what these men gave investigators. But that's 3 men in a case with scores of key witnesses.
7/ For instance, does anyone seriously doubt that somewhere in, say, Hour 37 of Cohen's interrogation by federal investigators—or somewhere in Hour 43 of Manafort's—there was a new witness or group of witnesses that federal investigators learned about and thus had to go question?
8/ Just so, unless Jr. is a final target *only for his lies to Congress*—which is preposterous, and unless Stone is a final target *whose case can't implicate anyone more important*, which is slightly less but still preposterous, how could the probe *end* with those indictments?
9/ Isikoff notes "there could be some portions [of the Manafort memo] that are redacted or filed as a sealed addendum"—which tells us that there are elements of Mueller's case that Mueller doesn't want the *public* to see, suggesting new info with utility for *other* indictments.
10/ Isikoff further notes that Mueller said new Congressional subpoenas wouldn't interfere with his work *provided they were on obstruction rather than collusion*—confirming that Mueller is done or at least satisfied with his evidence thus far on *obstruction*, but not collusion.
11/ I don't know many prosecutors who'd confide in a defense lawyer—especially one representing a witness who could be charged with a crime—the exact timeline for the *totality* of their investigation, though they might say they're tying up loose ends with respect to one witness.
12/ So could Mueller have told Stone's lawyer that he's "tying up loose ends" with respect to Stone's case? Sure. But if that lawyer then told a reporter—because of his own presumption/perspective that Stone is an endgame—that that meant the probe was almost over, he'd be wrong.
13/ One can see—as a fellow journalist or just as a writer—Isikoff's hedging here: "Mueller’s office declined any public comment when asked to confirm that account [of it tying up loose ends]—leaving open the possibility there still could be a few witnesses yet to be questioned."
14/ By the end of the piece, Isikoff has talked himself into being where I was—per what I've said on this feed—at the beginning of my read of his piece: "Another source indicated Mueller’s office is still asking congressional investigators to stay away from some other witnesses."
15/ My point is, guesswork should be indicated as such—as we've seen way too many articles confidently predicting the end of the Mueller probe per "sources" to believe such claims until we hear them via Mueller. And as I said, the *evidence* suggests 6 months at least to go. /end
PS/ When I say "6 months," I mean 6 months until Mueller sends a *full* report on his investigation—obstruction, collusion, and any other elements—to the DOJ. At *that* point a possibly months-long battle begins between the White House, DOJ, and Congress about who gets to see it.
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