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Report: Manafort visited Mueller 9 times since pleading guilty

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Paul Manafort
Paul
Manafort.

Thomson
Reuters


  • Paul Manafort has reportedly visited the special counsel
    Robert Mueller’s office at least nine times over the last month.
  • Once there, he and his lawyers are said to have spent at
    least six hours at a time with prosecutors.
  • Manafort is Mueller’s most significant cooperating witness to
    date, and his frequent trips to Mueller’s office indicate the
    Russia investigation is not slowing down any time soon.

Paul Manafort has visited the special counsel Robert Mueller’s
office at least nine times over the past month, for hours at a
time, CNN reported.

A black SUV carrying Manafort has reportedly been seen arriving
at Mueller’s office around 10 a.m. ET several times since
September. Manafort’s lawyers are said to arrive at the same
time, and they all spend around six hours inside the special
counsel’s office at a time.

Manafort pleaded guilty in September to two counts of conspiracy
and obstruction as part of the ongoing Russia investigation.

He is arguably Mueller’s most significant cooperating witness to
date, given his role leading President Donald Trump’s campaign
during the most pivotal period in the 2016 election.

Manafort was the chairman of the Trump campaign when he offered a
Russian oligarch “private briefings” on Trump’s bid. He was one
of three top Trump campaign officials to attend a meeting with
two Russian lobbyists offering dirt on Democratic nominee Hillary
Clinton at the height of the campaign.

And he was leading the campaign when the radical pro-transparency
group WikiLeaks began dumping thousands of emails from the
Democratic National Committee that had been stolen by Russian
operatives.

His cooperation with the special counsel comes amid heightened
calls from the president’s allies for Mueller to wrap up the
Russia investigation.

Mueller has not given any public indication that he will do so.
But two US officials told Bloomberg this week that the special
counsel is close to getting answers to
the two core questions in the investigation: whether members of
the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to sway
the 2016 race in his favor, and whether Trump sought to obstruct justice
after the existence of the Russia probe became public knowledge.

News out of Mueller’s office has been slow over the last few
weeks as the November 6 midterm election approaches, a sign that
prosecutors are adhering to DOJ guidelines that warn against
taking any overt actions that can be seen as influencing the
outcome of an election.


Robert Mueller
Special counsel Robert
Mueller.

Thomson
Reuters


But Manafort’s frequent trips to Mueller’s office indicate the
investigation is doing anything but slowing down.

On Wednesday, ABC News reported that Mueller’s prosecutors have
been grilling Manafort for
information on the longtime GOP strategist Roger Stone. Stone
told Business Insider he didn’t do anything wrong but expects to
be charged soon because he believes he is being “framed.”

Legal experts say they expect to see a string of new revelations
from Mueller’s office once the election is over, but that they
don’t anticipate the special counsel releasing a final report of
his findings any time soon.

What he may do, they added, is release a report of his findings
in the obstruction inquiry, which he is reportedly close to
wrapping up.

Meanwhile, Trump’s team is currently in the middle of providing
written answers to the special counsel on questions focusing on
potential collusion with Russia. Mueller has reportedly made
clear that he wants to ask follow-ups as well, and prosecutors
have not ruled out a one-on-one sit-down with the president.

Jed Shugerman, a professor at Fordham Law School, said
he believes it is significant that Mueller agreed to narrow the
scope of his initial questions for Trump to focus on collusion
rather than obstruction.

“It suggests Mueller thinks that’s more significant and
worthwhile at this stage,” he said.

Shugerman added that Mueller’s questions about collusion indicate
that “he probably has sufficient evidence for obstruction. If
forced to allocate his time to obstruction or Russia, he is
choosing Russia. And probably [because] he has big leads.”

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