Then FBI Director Robert Mueller arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., May 16, 2012, to testify during a hearing.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Special counsel to issue criminal indictment in Trump-Russia probe

Updated

As recently as Friday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told a national television audience that she’s “confident” Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Russia scandal was near its end.

The Rachel Maddow Show, 10/27/17, 9:00 PM ET

First charges filed in Mueller's Trump Russia probe: report

Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney talks with Rachel Maddow about new CNN reporting that a federal grand jury has “approved the first charges” in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump Russia investigation.
Like so many of Sanders’ claims, this doesn’t appear to be holding up especially well.

A federal grand jury in Washington has approved the first criminal charges in the special counsel’s investigation into Russian election interference, two sources told NBC News, marking a significant milestone in an inquiry that has roiled Donald Trump’s presidency.

Mueller’s Special Counsel’s Office will make public an indictment on Monday, a U.S. official with firsthand knowledge of the process confirmed to NBC News, without disclosing the name of the target or the nature of the charges. The timing was confirmed by a second source familiar with the matter.

If you saw Rachel’s show on Friday night, the initial report on the indictment was first published by CNN in the early evening on Friday. Soon after, Reuters and the Wall Street Journal ran pieces of their own. NBC News confirmed the report on Saturday.

Though the details should come into focus fairly soon, let’s review what we know and what we don’t at this point. [Update: It’s Manafort.]

For now, the indictment is sealed, which leaves most of the key questions unanswered. We don’t know who’ll be charged, for example, or what he or she will be charged with. It’s possible one person will be indicted, though the Wall Street Journal said there will be “at least one” defendant.

House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told ABC News yesterday that he suspects the charges will be filed against “either Mike Flynn or Paul Manafort,” referring to Donald Trump’s former National Security Advisor and campaign chairman, collectively, but Schiff added that he hasn’t been notified and the prediction was speculative.

And so, at this point, many of you are probably asking yourself a reasonable question: if we have no idea at this point what the relevant details are, why all the fuss? The first part of the answer is, we now know that Mueller’s and his team’s investigation, far from wrapping up, has persuaded a federal grand jury to approve an indictment against someone involved in the Trump-Russia scandal. Mueller has only been at this post since May, and he’s already taking the probe to a dramatic new level.

The second part is, there’s no reason to assume today’s indictment (or indictments) will be the last.

Today is likely to be a very interesting day.

Donald Trump, Russia and Scandals

Special counsel to issue criminal indictment in Trump-Russia probe

Updated