The ongoing investigation into whether President Trump colluded with Russia during the 2016 campaign could very well be the biggest in U.S. history. Now that the first charges have been filed, it can be useful to examine the practical aspects of the investigation – special counsel Robert Mueller and his team are some of the best prosecutors and investigators in the country, so watching how they work can provide insight into how highly-complex investigations like these work.
Here are some tactics that Mueller has used, so far.
The Mafia Playbook
The early indictments that Mueller has delivered have made it clear that he's treating Trump's campaign like the mafia: He's charging lower-level officials with collateral crimes in order to pressure them into giving crucial evidence that implicates higher-ups in the core focus of the investigation.
Here, Mueller has charged Paul Manafort, one of Trump's campaign managers, and one of Manafort's associates with numerous white collar crimes and for violating federal law by not following the rules of the Foreign Agent Registration Act. None of these charges are directly on point with regard to Mueller's end goal – finding out if Trump's campaign colluded with Russia to win the election. Each of them, however, carries significant jail time that can be used to pressure Manafort to cooperate with Mueller's team in exchange for a plea deal.
Wiring and Exposing a Low-Level Associate
While the charges against Manafort took the headlines, Mueller's revelation that a plea deal had been struck with Trump's former foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos was far more telling.
In a document that was unsealed on October 30, Mueller revealed that Papadopoulos had pled guilty to lying to federal investigators… On October 5. In fact, Papadopoulos had been arrested on July 27 and had been meeting with the FBI as early as January 27, when he first started cooperating with investigators.
This means, as early as late-January, Mueller's investigation had an informant that was providing information from inside the Trump administration, which had then only been in office for one week.
By revealing this plea deal and exposing Papadopoulos, Mueller sent waves of doubt into the targets of the investigation: If Papadopoulos had been cooperating with the FBI as early as January, what had he found out? Numerous people who talked to Papadopoulos since January are suddenly scrambling to review what they said to him, while everyone else is wondering if Papadopoulos was the only one who was cooperating with Mueller. Those seeds of doubt often make vulnerable people think hard about what they have to lose and consider cutting their losses and cooperating, as well.
Criminal Defense Attorney William T. Bly
These techniques are common and highlight the practical complexities of being the target of a sophisticated investigation. This is especially the case when it comes to white-collar crime, where the evidence is difficult to track and there are often numerous conspirators.
Having an effective criminal defense attorney at your side can make a huge difference because they have seen the techniques that prosecutors use, and can prepare for them before it's too late and you've been charged with a serious crime.
If you think you're being investigated for a crime, call the law office of criminal defense attorney William T. Bly at (207) 571-8146 or contact his law office online for the legal help that you need.