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Robert Mueller's Trump-Russia investigation 'could last at least another year'

The President has told people he expects to be cleared 'in writing'

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Tuesday 19 December 2017 16:17 GMT
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Mr Mueller has yet to make any public comments about his probe
Mr Mueller has yet to make any public comments about his probe (Getty)

Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign team and Russia’s alleged meddling in the US election could reportedly last for at least another year.

While the President and his senior officials have claimed the Special Counsel’s probe is drawing to a close and will vindicate him, a report claims that having so far issued indictments against four people linked to Mr Trump, Mr Mueller’s inquiry could continue much longer.

This week, White House lawyers are expected to meet with investigators from Mr Mueller’s office. In recent weeks, the team has been requesting more and more documents from the White House to include in its probe.

While the White House and the President have sought to cooperate and publicly say nothing critical of Mr Mueller, others close to Mr Trump have condemned the investigation and accused it of overreach.

A flurry of reports suggested Republicans were trying to shut down both Mr Mueller’s investigation, along with several congressional probes that are ongoing. There were even reports Mr Trump was poised to fire Mr Mueller.

“I’m increasingly worried Republicans will shut down the House intelligence committee investigation at the end of the month,” congressman Adam Schiff, who is the leading Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said over the weekend.

Donald Trump says he doesn't intend to fire Robert Mueller

“Beyond our investigation, here’s what has me really concerned: the attacks on Mueller, the Department of Justice and FBI this week make it clear they plan to go after Mueller’s investigation.”

CNN said that in recent weeks, Mr Trump, who has called the investigation a “witch hunt”, appeared to be more relaxed about the issue and had been telling people he expected to be cleared “in writing” of any wrongdoing.

But the Washington Post suggested the White House may be in for an unpleasant surprise. It said people with knowledge of the investigation said it could continue for another year at least.

“The Special Counsel’s office has continued to request new documents related to the campaign, and members of Mueller’s team have told others they expect to be working through much of 2018, at a minimum,” it said.

Two of the four people charged by Mr Mueller – former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates – have pleaded not guilty. But the other two, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, have pleaded guilty to modest charges and are cooperating with the investigation. There is speculation it is information these two men have provided to Mr Mueller’s team that is generating new lines of inquiry and extending the calendar of the probe.

At the end of October, a month before Mr Flynn pleaded guilty, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she believed Mr Mueller’s investigation was “getting closer to conclusion”. She said this was certainly the view of Mr Trump.

“I certainly think he has confidence that they are going to close this up soon,” Ms Sanders told Fox News.

“I think we are seeing more and more evidence that shows, look, they’ve been working on this and investigating this for well into a year through various committees.”

She added: “Every day we find out more and more details about why the President has been right all along and why the Democrats have been wrong all along and I think that each day we’re getting closer and closer to closing the loop on this on our front.”

There was no immediate response to a request for comment from the White House.

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