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A Look At What Special Counsel Robert Mueller Has Accomplished After 1 Year


One year ago today, the Justice Department appointed Robert Mueller to lead the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. So far the special counsel has charged 19 people, including key insiders in Donald Trump's campaign. And to the chagrin of President Trump, Mueller is not done yet. Rudy Giuliani, Trump's lawyer, complained about that last night on Fox News.


RUDY GIULIANI: We're trying to get him to end this. This is not good for the American people. And the special counsel's office doesn't seem to have that sort of understanding that they're interfering with things that are much bigger than them.

KELLY: All right, here now is NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson. Welcome back, Carrie.


KELLY: So I'll just note that the president is marking this one-year anniversary in his own way. He's tweeting about the special counsel and calling the probe, as he has often done before, the greatest witch hunt in American history. So my first question to you is just walk us briefly through what Mueller's team has gotten done this year.

JOHNSON: Yeah, hard to believe it's only one year. They've secured a guilty plea from former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who talked about outreach from the Russians. And another guilty plea from former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who lied to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador during the transition. And another guilty plea from deputy campaign manager Rick Gates, who also misled investigators about topics related to Russia.

KELLY: So three guilty pleas.

JOHNSON: Five in total.

KELLY: Five. OK.

JOHNSON: But how much those cooperators, those three big ones, have told the DOJ and the FBI remains unclear. And President Trump's own FBI director, Chris Wray, told Congress this week this is no witch hunt.

KELLY: The other message coming from the White House seems to be, wrap it up. Let's get this done. Enough already. Has Robert Mueller given any indication when he intends to wrap this up?

JOHNSON: Robert Mueller has given no indication. He is not the most patient guy. We know this. He's also 73 years old. But there's no artificial deadline for this probe. This team is preparing for trials this summer and fall against Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman. It's also proceeding against a Russian company accused of funding an information trolling campaign during the election. But we don't know how long this is going to last. Former prosecutor Katya Jestin told me this week a year in the kind - this kind of investigation is actually not very long at all. She says the Mueller team is plotting, professional and deliberate, letting the work speak for them.

KELLY: So we don't know what inning we're in here.

JOHNSON: Not yet.

KELLY: OK. Here's one thing I've been wondering. We mentioned 19 people have been charged, but no charges yet against people who hacked into the emails of Democrats during the 2016 campaign, that DNC hack. What's the latest with that? Might those charges be coming at some point?

JOHNSON: They might. It's quite clear there was wrongdoing here. We know the email accounts at the Democratic National Committee and email connected to Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta - all of those accounts were breached in 2016. Reuters reported this week and NPR has confirmed a social media expert tied to Roger Stone, a Trump ally, has received a grand jury subpoena. This social media guy had access to Roger Stone's Twitter feed.

And remember; Roger Stone seemed to tweet during the campaign that Democrats and Hillary Clinton were about to face some trouble. Stone has denied any kind of organized conspiracy or wrongdoing to engage in hacking. But we know Bob Mueller has not been reluctant to charge people overseas. He's already charged Russians. And that may come with respect to this hacking.

KELLY: Let me ask the $64,000 question, which is the classic how does - tell me how this ends, Carrie. I mean, Trump's lawyers say they don't think the president will be charged with a crime. So do we have any idea where this might go, what the kind of grand finale might be?

JOHNSON: So DOJ opinions on the books say it's unlikely you can charge a sitting president with a crime. But that may end once the president leaves office. He may then or she may then be subject to criminal charges. We don't know where this ends at this point. It may end with some kind of public report. But that's up to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who's Robert Mueller's supervisor.

KELLY: All right, that's NPR's Carrie Johnson. Thanks, Carrie.

JOHNSON: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Carrie Johnson is a justice correspondent for the Washington Desk.