President Donald Trump’s team of lawyers have been burning up the phone lines Saturday in a frantic effort to learn the identity of the first person to be indicted in the Russia probe, it was reported on Saturday.
Trump’s attorneys have been desperately trying to get more information just a day after it was learned that a grand jury had approved the first charges in the probe headed by special counsel Robert Mueller, according to Politico.
Mueller is heading the federal investigation into alleged attempts by Russia to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.
The charges which were approved by a grand jury on Friday are sealed under orders from a federal judge, CNN said.
Plans were prepared Friday for anyone charged to be taken into custody as soon as Monday, CNN reported, citing the unnamed sources.
It is unclear what the charges are, CNN said.
Politico reported on Saturday that the bombshell CNN report ignited a ‘guessing game’ among Trump’s lawyers as to who the first target of the Mueller probe is.
There is speculation that it could either be one of two former senior officials in the Trump campaign – Paul Manafort or Michael Flynn.
Lawyers close to the investigation told Politico that they wouldn’t be surprised if the first indictment was handed down against family members or associates of Flynn and Manafort as a tactic to pressure them to cooperate with the investigation.
Manafort, who served as chairman of Trump’s campaign last year, is being investigated by both Mueller and by the US attorney’s office in Manhattan for potential money laundering, according to media reports, adding to other federal and state probes targeting him.
US investigators examining Manafort’s financial transactions are seeking to push him into cooperating with their probe into the possible collusion, two sources with direct knowledge of the investigation have said.
Manafort, who headed the Trump campaign for several months before resigning, has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
Mueller’s team and congressional investigators are also probing Manafort, whose Virginia apartment was raided by agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in July.
Russia has denied any meddling in the 2016 US election.
Trump has denied any collusion by his campaign and has condemned the investigation as a political witch hunt.
A close associate of both Manafort and Trump, Roger Stone, was barred from Twitter on Saturday after he lashed out at CNN on Friday over its reporting on the Mueller probe, according to Politico.
Flynn, a former national security adviser under Trump, is a central figure in a federal probe led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into whether Trump aides colluded with Russia to boost his presidential campaign.
Trump fired Flynn in February after a top Justice Department official warned that the former Defense Intelligence Agency director could be blackmailed because Moscow knew he made misleading statements about his contacts with Russian officials.
Meanwhile, a former assistant secretary of homeland security said on Saturday that she expects the first
indictments sealed on Friday to be followed by additional ones in the weeks ahead.
Juliette Kayyem, who provides analysis to CNN as a national security expert, said that the Mueller investigation is moving forward despite attempts by Trump and his allies to change the subject.
‘This is not the end, though, and people should not think this is going to settle any issues, this is just an indictment,’ Kayyem told CNN.
‘But it does mean that Mueller has proved something not just to a grand jury but to his chain of command at the Department of Justice.’
She said that the White House has been preoccupied with ‘this sort of Hail Mary’ this past week by claiming that the ‘real Russia scandal’ was the sale of American uranium to a Russian-owned company.
The sale, which took place during the Obama administration, was approved by a panel that included then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Entities involved in the transaction donated to the Clinton Foundation.
An investment banking firm with ties to the Kremlin that had talked up the sale paid former President Bill Clinton $500,000 to deliver a speech in Moscow while the deal was in progress.
Congressional Republicans announced this week that they were going to investigate the Uranium One deal, even though legal officials found no evidence of wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton.
Kayyem told CNN that the indictment by Mueller will be the first of many ‘if the case is as strong as it appears to be.’
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