TV Brackets United Kinkdom / Flickr robert mueller...
TV Brackets United Kinkdom / Flickr

Donald Trump’s lead attorney and mustache-twirling champ, Ty Cobb, has been repeatedly stating that Robert Mueller’s investigation into connections between Trump and Russia would be over soon. Real soon. Very soon now. But Thanksgiving came and went. Merry Christmas got said—thanks to Trump, of course. And now New Years is in the rear view. 

And where are we on Mueller’s investigation?

Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III has added a veteran cyber prosecutor to his team, filling what has long been a curious gap in expertise and potentially signaling a recent focus on computer crimes.

Ryan K. Dickey was assigned to Mueller’s team in early November from the Justice Department’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, a special counsel’s office spokesman said. He joined a group of 16 other lawyers who are highly respected by their peers but who have come under fire from Republicans wary of some of their political contributions to Democrats.

Recent news that Mueller is seeking a face to face meeting with Trump may indicate that the investigative team has all the evidence they need on some issues, but the fact that Mueller was still adding new members to the team in November suggests that there are still plenty of days ahead where Trump can tweet the words “no collusion.”

Ryan Dickey is the first member of Mueller’s team to come in as a cyber specialist. Considering Russia’s breaking in to steal private information from both the DNC and Democratic officials, as well as the use of social media ad buys, and armies of bots … there’s a lot to look into on the cyber-side. Oh, and there’s still the mysterious chatter between a server in Trump Tower and a bank in Russia, a signal that was still under investigation by the FBI in 2017.

While the email thefts may have happened without Trump’s assist, it’s clear that his campaign knew that Russia was behind the break in, and had the stolen goods, months before that information was public and well before even the DNC was sure. And after those thefts came the Trump Tower meeting, and after that came the release of the stolen info to Wikileaks, and after that came Trump reading printouts and shouting “I love Wikileaks!” All of which means that Dickey has plenty to think about.

George Papadopoulos passing along the offer of Hillary Clinton “dirt” from stolen emails may not have been the first tendril between Trump and Moscow, but it appears to have launched the FBI investigation.

Mueller’s work has long had an important cyber component, as Russia’s hacking of Democrats’ emails to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system and help Trump win is central to his probe. The original FBI counter intelligence probe was launched in part because a Trump campaign adviser was said to have told an Australian diplomat that Russia had emails that could embarrass Democrats, and in July 2016, private Democratic messages thought to have been hacked by Russia began appearing online.

And there’s something else that Dickey might look into. In a week that’s seen Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham file criminal charges against a former British intelligence officer with no apparent evidence, it’s worth remembering that Republican resistance to the idea of Russian involvement goes way back.

In September, during a secret briefing for congressional leaders, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) voiced doubts about the veracity of the intelligence, according to officials present.

And a good question for Dickey might be … why? Why would Republican leadership suddenly loose their faith in cyber intelligence? This was months before the election. What incentive did Mitch McConnell have to cover for Russia?

Seriously. What was McConnell’s edge?

Meanwhile …

Nothing says “I’m not obstructing justice” like yet another tweet begging someone to stop the investigation.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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