Chief Judge Beryl Howell approved Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s request this week to extend the term of his grand jury by another six months. The jury, which has already been convened for 18 months, was set to expire imminently. No reason was given for the extension, but it comes at a time when many officials in Trump’s orbit have expressed hope – if not confidence – that Mueller was wrapping up his investigation. The six-month extension doesn’t necessarily mean the investigation will actually drag on through the summer, but it does indicate that Mueller isn’t finished digging around in the president’s business.
Mueller’s grand jury has been responsible for handing down the bulk of the special counsel’s indictments, including charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. The extension could signal that there are more indictments to come. We could even see Mueller indict someone on charges that remotely relate to the actual purpose of his investigation, although we wouldn’t bet on it.
The question now, as ever, is: When the hell is this going to be over? For whatever flaws the Mueller team has, loose lips are not among them. Because there have been virtually no leaks to the media, reporters are reduced to talking to third-hand sources and generating reams of speculation. The latest so-called insider reports indicated that Mueller might be ready to conclude the investigation next month, but we’ll believe it when we see it. Certainly, the swearing-in of a Democrat majority in the House will likely speed things along. We don’t doubt for a moment that Mueller already kept the investigation open this long in the hopes of just such an eventuality.
Unfortunately, Democrats holding the gavel in the House can’t change the fact that after two years and the expenditure of $30 million, Robert Mueller has failed to come up with any evidence that connects Donald Trump or his campaign to so-called collusion charges. Yes, he’s found a number of other crimes in the Trump orbit – crimes that have little or nothing to do with Russia or the campaign. And yes, he’s garnered a few process indictments – sentences for Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos based on their supposed lies to the FBI. But when it comes to the meat of the matter, Mueller appears to have come up emptyhanded.
For that reason, we suspect the bulk of his final report will relate to Trump’s “obstruction” of the investigation, which amounts to yet another process charge. The witch hunt couldn’t find any witches, so the only option left is to go after the people who tried to stop the witch hunt. That’s a pretty weak conclusion, but it will undoubtedly be enough for Nancy Pelosi to call for impeachment hearings. We’re sure, protests to the contrary notwithstanding, she’s chomping at the bit to do so.