Cohen’s New Plea Suggests Mueller Closing In on Key Questions

(Bloomberg) -- Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s supporters and critics alike have complained that his Russia investigation isn’t moving fast enough toward a conclusion.

That’s harder to argue now. Mueller appears to be getting closer to answering whether there was coordination between the Trump presidential campaign and state-sponsored Russian operatives bent on electing Donald Trump. And his former campaign chief, personal lawyer and national security adviser are about to be sentenced in cases brought by Mueller.

Here’s where the action is:

  • Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen now has a cooperation agreement with Mueller after pleading guilty to making a false statement. He admitted Thursday that he lied to Congress when he told investigators that Trump’s business interests in Russia had ended by January 2016, before the Iowa presidential caucuses. In an indication that Cohen has been fully debriefed by Mueller, prosecutors and defense lawyers asked for his sentencing in both cases to proceed on Dec. 12.
  • Lawyers for Paul Manafort will appear in federal court in Washington on Friday after Manafort’s cooperation deal with Mueller collapsed. Mueller says Trump’s former campaign chairman lied repeatedly to authorities after striking a plea deal and pledging to help investigators, a revelation that could send Manafort to prison for much longer than he might have as a cooperator.
  • Michael Flynn is set to be sentenced on Dec. 18 for lying to federal agents. His sentencing has been delayed repeatedly as he has assisted the Mueller’s team as part of a cooperation agreement. Flynn, a Trump campaign adviser and short-time national security adviser, faces as long as six months in prison, though he’s likely to get no prison time because he helped Mueller.
  • George Papadopoulos reported to prison on Monday to start his 14-day sentence for lying to investigators. The foreign-policy adviser to candidate Trump admitted he misled investigators about his contacts with a U.K. professor peddling dirt from Russian officials about Hillary Clinton.
  • Mueller appears to be closing in on three men who may have participated in WikiLeaks’ disclosure of an email trove stolen from prominent Democrats during the 2016 campaign:
    > Conservative author Jerome Corsi -- a confidant of Republican operative and informal Trump adviser Roger Stone, who dropped hints during the campaign that he knew in advance about the email leaks -- said this week that he turned down an offer by Mueller’s investigators to plead guilty to one count of perjury.
    > Mueller has reportedly asked several witnesses about Stone’s possible interactions with WikiLeaks.
    > WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has already been charged by the Justice Department, according to a person familiar with the matter. This month, a prosecutor inadvertently filed a document in an unrelated case that referred to Assange by name. It’s unclear if the charges are related to the Russia probe.

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