Understanding why the FBI moved an apparently unrelated case to Robert Mueller might explain a lot

PBS NewsHour / YouTube What Robert Mueller brings to the...
PBS NewsHour / YouTube

An unusual case forwarded by the FBI gives a hint that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating areas outside those that might be expected. According to Politico, Cheri Jacobus was a Republican consultant who was considered for a job with the Trump campaign in the spring of 2015—and ended up triggering an FBI investigation into a Trump super PAC. Jacobus was interviewed to be the Trump campaign communication director, but the interviews were apparently “contentious.” Afterward Jacobus told the campaign she was not interested in the post, and the following October she was quoted on at least one item that had ruled out the position: Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski had told Jacobus about plans to create a Trump super PAC—a level of coordination that directly violates FEC regulations.

And that’s when things went from super PAC to super weird.

According to the Politico story, Jacobus was approached by a man posing as an English barrister representing clients who wanted to make a large contribution to an anti-Trump PAC. Jacobus passed them along to someone operating such a PAC. But the “barrister” began pumping the PAC representatives for information on their tactics and resources, leading them to believe he didn’t represent potential clients so much as … Trump. Meanwhile, Jacobus was receiving multiple calls from make-believe “clients” of the make-believe barrister. It’s not known if John Barron or John Miller was among them.

Jacobus was also fighting with Trump’s team. A regular Fox News commentator during the primaries, she was singled out as a “dummy” in one of Trump’s tweets and attacked in the press by Lewandowski.

Then the summer of 2016, Jacobus’s email and online files were hacked and the contents of her accounts deleted. It was all enough to trigger an FBI investigation … and now that investigation has been turned over to Robert Mueller.

The referral adds yet another dimension to the special counsel’s sprawling probe, even as some of President Donald Trump’s allies portray Mueller’s work as nearing its conclusion.

They’d like to think Mueller’s investigation is almost done. But it’s not.

At least part of what happened to Cheri Jacobus seems to be connected to convicted con man Steven Wessel. But it wasn’t just Wessel. Jacobus’s email account wasn’t breached and wiped out until four months after Wessel was back in jail.

Since the hacking of her accounts, Jacobus filed a complaint with the FBI and stayed in touch with the agents looking into her case … until those agents came to Jacobus to tell her that “they had forwarded their investigation to Mueller.”

There was clearly animosity between the Trump campaign and Cheri Jacobus. What ultimately happened to Jacobus certainly echoed the attacked on Democratic organizations and individuals during the same time period. But the DNC and others like John Podesta had their emails hacked by Russian operatives for the purpose of assisting the Trump campaign.

Did the FBI forward Jacobus’s case to Mueller because they had come to suspect that the same operatives might have raided her email? That’s not clear. It may be that the area supported by Mueller, which was clearly expanded on at least one occasion through additional instructions from deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, is simply broad enough that the combination of hacking and connections to the Trump campaign was enough to pull the case in.

But if Russian hackers were actively going after someone in 2016, right after Trump and his campaign operatives pointed that person out as a problem, that would certainly be … interesting.

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