On Friday, Attorney General William Barr announced that he had received Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report explaining his prosecutorial decisions during his nearly two-year investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and any potential nexus to the Trump campaign. Per the requirements of the special counsel regulations, Barr noted to the relevant congressional committee leaders that there were no instances in which Barr or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein rejected a proposed action by Mueller. Notably, no more indictments were made public on Friday.
Multiple news outlets also reported that Department of Justice officials were saying that there would be no more indictments from Mueller’s office, but it’s unclear what that means precisely. BuzzFeed News reported that its DOJ source “would not comment on whether there are any sealed indictments pending related to Mueller’s investigation.” CNN’s Laura Jarrett and NBC’s Peter Winter both reported that no new sealed indictments would be unveiled. It was unclear whether or not this included a sealed indictment of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange that the DOJ accidentally revealed in a legal filing last August, but Winter’s reporting appears phrased in a way to indicate that all of the known indictments—which would seem to include Assange’s—had been revealed.
Of course, there could be further indictments from separate U.S. attorneys’ offices such as the Southern District of New York, which has already won a guilty plea from Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen and has directly implicated the president in Cohen’s crimes. It has been Mueller’s practice to farm out cases that are not directly related to his Russia-centric mandate. But if it’s true that no further indictments will come directly from Mueller— particularly on possible charges of conspiracy against the United States for top Trump campaign officials—then a number of people should be breathing easier on Friday.
Here’s a quick rundown of who those people are—and what they might have had to fear from Robert Mueller
Donald Trump Jr.
Last month, the Atlantic’s Natasha Bertrand reported on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher that the president’s son was telling associates that he expected to be indicted in the Mueller probe. (A spokesman for Trump Jr. denied the claims.)
Trump Jr. probably faced the most scrutiny from Mueller’s team for a June 2016 meeting he took with a Russian lawyer who was later indicted in relation to her work with Russia and who an intermediary had promised would offer “dirt on [Hillary] Clinton” delivered as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” Trump Jr. has long said the meeting—which was also attended by former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Trump son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner—didn’t result in the sharing of any fruitful information.
Theoretically, Trump Jr. might have faced charges for conspiracy against the United States if Mueller had uncovered evidence that the meeting was part of a broad effort to help Russia interfere in the 2016 election. It’s also been speculated that the meeting may have violated campaign finance laws against soliciting “anything of value” from a foreign citizen. But as election expert Richard Hasen noted in Slate earlier this year, the potential case for campaign finance charges appeared weak.
It also seemed that there might be a case to be made against Trump Jr. for lying to Congress, a charge to which Cohen had pleaded guilty in the Mueller probe. Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he did not inform his father about the Trump Tower meeting. Observers had speculated a phone call to a blocked number that Trump Jr. made shortly after receiving the email promising the Russian dirt was to his father, something he denied in his committee testimony. Last month, it was reported that the Senate Intelligence Committee had confirmed that the call was not to Trump, which would mean he did not perjure himself about that call. There were also questions about whether he could have committed perjury with his description to Congress of his “peripheral” involvement in a Trump Tower Moscow project, but it appears as though there will be no charges there, either.
There’s still the matter of the Southern District of New York’s investigation into illegal hush money payments that Cohen made to women who have alleged that they had affairs with Trump. During testimony last month, Cohen revealed that Trump Jr. had signed at least one of the checks that was a reimbursement to Cohen. As Reuters noted, if Trump Jr. knew it was for an illicit campaign-finance contribution, he might also be on the hook with SDNY. That office will presumably continue whatever cases it had ongoing in the matters connected to Cohen, but on Friday it was announced that the prosecutor who led that investigation there would be stepping down as well.
Kushner was one of the other Trump campaign attendees of the Trump Tower meeting and he would face similar scrutiny as Trump Jr. for that. Mueller also reportedly asked Kushner about his role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey, which could have potentially led to obstruction-of-justice charges but apparently has not. Also, Kushner was probed on his other contacts with Russia during the presidential transition, along with meetings with the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and other countries. There was speculation that Kushner’s efforts to set up a secret “back channel” with Russia during the transition might also raise the prospect of a conspiracy charge, particularly after former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn pled guilty to lying to the FBI and began cooperating with Mueller’s probe. Kushner’s work with data firm Cambridge Analytica, which had acquired data on millions of Facebook users and worked for the Trump campaign, was also said to be under scrutiny. Again, if no more indictments land, then it would appear that Kushner is safe from charges on all those fronts.
While President Trump’s eldest daughter never received nearly as much attention as her brother or husband, it was reported last fall that Mueller was investigating her role in the Trump Tower Moscow deal. And her possible role in crafting the misleading initial public response to the revelations about her brother’s Trump Tower meeting also received scrutiny. It’s unclear what charges might have been brought against her, but the examination of the Moscow deal was part of Mueller’s effort to determine whether anyone in the Trump orbit worked with Russia as part of an election interference conspiracy. It appears as though Ivanka does not need to fear any charges there.
The Blackwater founder—and brother of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos—was interviewed at length by and turned over phone and computer records to Mueller’s investigators. Mueller was reported to be probing whether a 2017 meeting Prince attended in the Seychelles was arranged as part of an effort to set up that back channel to Russia. Questions arose whether Prince lied to Congress about the meeting’s planned purpose. It appears that he will not face charges on this matter.
In Mueller’s most successful prosecution, the former Trump campaign chairman was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison earlier this month for charges related to work he did outside of the Trump campaign. There was an open question about whether he might face additional conspiracy charges in any collusion case, and the answer appears to be that he will not.
Like Kushner, Parscale—who is the current campaign manager for Trump’s 2020 re-election effort and led its digital work in 2016—would have likely faced scrutiny over his work with Cambridge Analytica, and whether or not there were any connections to Russia. He will not face charges, it seems.
Like his longtime friend Manafort, the former Trump advisor has already been ensnared in the Mueller probe, but faced the potential for additional charges on top his seven-count indictment in Jan. for his alleged efforts to obstruct the probe. Stone’s contacts with WikiLeaks and with a Russian intelligence hacker known as Guccifer 2.0 would have received scrutiny for possible conspiracy charges, which appear to be off the table for the time being. Stone still faces criminal proceedings in his obstruction-related case.
The conservative media gadfly was spiking the football after Mueller’s probe was wrapped without an indictment against him. Mueller had attempted to get Corsi to plead guilty to lying to investigators and obstruction of justice as part of a cooperation deal. Stone’s indictment included claims that he had asked Corsi to act as an intermediary to get information from Julian Assange about the Clinton emails that were hacked by Russia, so it appears as though he ultimately cooperated in the case. He will not face indictment, it seems.
Support our independent journalism
Readers like you make our work possible. Help us continue to provide the reporting, commentary, and criticism you won’t find anywhere else.Join Slate Plus