But the emails!
It’s not just an increasingly worn rejoinder to any story of chaos and disaster in the Trump administration. It’s also an interesting question to ask about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. The internal scale of the probe remains unknown to anyone outside, but based on what Mueller has revealed publicly in court documents, we can get a good idea of some of what he is considering.
Through indictments and plea deals, Mueller has gone after Russians for conducting a social-media campaign to influence the election. He has targeted Paul Manafort and Rick Gates for actions outside of the Trump campaign, and on Tuesday Alex van der Zwaan, an attorney, is due to be sentenced for lying about conversations with Gates. Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos have also pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. On the collusion front, Mueller said in a court filing Monday that he had been authorized to investigate whether Manafort colluded with Russians to influence the election. Finally, Mueller is believed to be extremely interested in whether President Trump obstructed justice in his firings of Michael Flynn and James Comey.
What Mueller hasn’t done yet is tipped his hand on the hacking of emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. This is notable, since the hacking of the emails is clearly within the scope of Mueller’s appointment. It is clearly a crime that occurred, unlike obstruction of justice and other allegations of collusion, for which there is evidence but not the same smoking gun. The hacks had a clear effect on the course of the election, one that is easier to pinpoint than the misinformation campaign conducted by the Internet Research Agency. And there’s a clear culprit. There has long been widespread agreement (with some rare though notable exceptions) that Russia was behind the hack, and The Daily Beast reported last month that Guccifer 2.0, the pseudonymous hacker who published some DNC emails and provided others to WikiLeaks, had at one point erred and revealed himself to be a Russian intelligence officer.