Criminal Law: Federal Grand Just Hands Down Indictment in Investigation by Special Counsel

A highly controversial move, the U.S. Department of Justice appointed a Special Counsel, James Mueller, to investigate whether any crimes occurred during the 2016 presidential election campaign. The Special Counsel’s charge specifically focuses allegations of meddling in the U.S. election by Russia.

Late Friday, October 27, 2018, news broke that the Special Counsel had obtained an indictment or indictments from a grand jury empaneled to hear evidence associated with Mueller’s investigation. The grand jury indictment was sealed leaving the identity of the individual or individuals yet unknown.

Speculation is that an arrest or arrests associated with the indictment or indictments will be made between the time of the grand jury’s formal determination and sometime Monday, October 30, 2018. Oftentimes, in cases of this nature, an indicted person is provided an opportunity to surrender to the U.S. Marshal Service rather than being arrested.

After being arrested, or self-surrendering, a person indicted in this investigation will be brought before a U.S. Magistrate Judge. A decision regarding bail and release will be made at this juncture.

A great deal of speculation swirled about regarding who has been indicted. The trio of leading contenders are Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, and Carter Page. Manafort was the chairman of the Trump presidential campaign. Flynn is a career serviceman, who worked on the Trump campaign. Finally, Page is a Trump-connected consultant.

Two other people who are speculated to be possible targets of the grand jury are Jared Kushner, the President’s son-in-law, and Donald Trump, Jr., the President’s son. Both men worked on the Trump presidential campaign. Kushner works at the White House and the President’s son works for the Trump Organization.

As late as Friday, the day the indictment evidently was issued, the White House was speculating that the investigation had reached an end and concluded that nothing improver had occurred. The White House, through the Press Secretary, provided no factual support for that determination.

In the past, President Trump has made statements about the possibility of directing the Department of Justice to fire the Special Counsel. The law prevents the President from personally firing the Special Counsel. Many constitutional and legal analysts have suggested that Trump firing the Special Counsel would precipitate a constitutional crisis of the kind last associated with Watergate and President Nixon.

The President, and the White House more broadly, had issued no statement in response to the apparent indictments. This includes the President’s Twitter account, which has been silent on the subject thus far.

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