Former Whitewater independent counsel Robert Ray said on Tuesday that special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe could conclude by year-end.
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“A timely conclusion of the investigation with all significant prosecutorial decisions having been made can be accomplished before the election cycle begins in November,” he told FOX Business’ Neil Cavuto on “Cavuto: Coast to Coast.”
Mueller’s team recently charged attorney Alex Van Der Zwaan with lying to the FBI about his interactions with Rick Gates, a former aide to Donald Trump’s campaign. This charge puts additional pressure on Gates, who is currently being blamed alongside Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manfort, for fraud and money laundering.
Ray expects that Mueller will use every tool available to him to uncover the truth about Russia’s alleged role in the 2016 election.
“The reason you bring charges like that is you got to find out why they are doing what they are doing,” Ray said. “If they are making false statements to the FBI in connection with the investigation, you want to find out whether that takes you any place."
Last Friday, the Justice Department announced charges against 13 Russian nationals, three Russian entities and St. Petersburg, Russia-based Internet Research Agency for meddling in the 2016 election. The 37-page indictment detailed how Russia implemented its plan in using social media to sway voters into voting for Trump.
“Some defendants, posing as U.S. persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities,” the indictment said.
The deliberate use of the word “unwitting,” Ray said, is an indicator that Trump could be cleared of any crimes in regards to Russian collusion.
“The word that was used in the charging instrument, which was ‘unwitting,’ made it clear that any connection between the Russians and the criminal allegations that were contained in the indictment and the Trump campaign were only ones where they were essentially unknowing participants in assisting what otherwise were Russian efforts to interfere with the election,” he said.