An investigation referred to Justice Department prosecutors by Special Counsel Robert Mueller earlier this year into possible criminal activity by Clinton-linked Washington insider Tony Podesta and former Obama White House Counsel Greg Craig is heating up, according to a new report that underscores federal authorities’ increasing enforcement of laws governing foreign business relationships.
The inquiries center not only on Craig and Podesta — a Democratic lobbyist and co-founder of the onetime lobbying powerhouse known as the Podesta Group — but also on Vin Weber, a former GOP congressman from Minnesota.
The probes had been quiet for months since Mueller referred them to authorities in New York City because they fell outside his mandate of determining whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia.
But in a flurry of new activity, Justice Department prosecutors in the last several weeks have begun interviewing witnesses and contacting lawyers to schedule additional questioning related to the Podesta Group and Mercury Public Affairs, people familiar with the inquiry anonymously told the Associated Press.
The apparent ramp-up comes as multiple reports and indications suggest that the Mueller probe into possible collusion in 2016 between the Russian government and President Trump’s campaign is winding down.
The New York work highlights the broad effects of Mueller’s investigation, extending well beyond that collusion question. Mueller has made clear he will not turn away if he discovers alleged crimes outside the scope of his inquiry; instead, he refers them out in investigations that may linger on even after the special counsel’s work concludes. Other Justice Department referrals from Mueller have ended in guilty pleas, including the hush money payment case of Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen. – READ MORE