Calling all government officials: there are mere hours until a partial government shutdown could hit us. As both chambers of Congress and the president continue to go back-and-forth over funding for a wall along the southern U.S. border, the odds of a shutdown are looking increasingly likely. And if you've been keeping up with the Russia investigation, you might be wondering: Will the Mueller investigation be affected by a government shutdown? Stay calm, because it looks like Mueller will still be digging.
According to CNN, the special counsel's office isn't beholden to the budget negotiations. During the last government shutdown in January 2018, a spokesperson for the office shared a statement with CNN saying that it will continue its operations. The spokesperson for the office said, "All employees with the Special Counsel's Office are considered exempt and would continue their operations in the case of a lapse in appropriations." Best. News. Ever. Elite Daily reached out to the office of the special counsel for any additional details, but didn't immediately hear back.
Pretty much all of America has been on the edge of our seats in anticipation of the probe's outcome. According to NBC News, Mueller is wrapping up his investigation into potential collusion between Russia and members of the 2016 Trump campaign and could potentially even submit his findings to the attorney general as early as February 2019, which... well, hold onto your butts.
So far, the investigation has churned up some major bombshells, leading to charges against high-ranking officials and close associates of the president. They include former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI on Dec. 1, 2017, about his contact with Russian officials. He later joined forces with Mueller's team and gave "substantial assistance" to the investigation, according to prosecutors, much of which has yet to be revealed.
Also, President Trump's former longtime lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen was given a three-year sentence on Dec. 12 for various financial crimes stemming from the probe, including payments made to two women who alleged affairs with the president ahead of the 2016 election. While Trump has denied the affairs, he admitted to reimbursing Cohen for the payment. The lawyer, however, has repeatedly claimed that he made the payment at the direction of Trump — which would be a violation of campaign finance laws, and is a claim that federal prosecutors appeared to back in Cohen's sentencing memo. In the filing, prosecutors wrote that Cohen acted “in coordination with and at the direction of” the president, referred to as "Individual 1," when he paid the two women. Elite Daily reached out to the White House for comment on Cohen's claims and the president's identification with "Individual 1," but did not hear back.
In an emailed statement following the sentencing, Cohen spokesperson Lanny Davis told Elite Daily that Cohen "continues to tell the truth" to courts and prosecutors. He says,
Michael has owned up to his mistakes and fully cooperated with Special Counsel Mueller in his investigation over possible Trump campaign collusion with Russian meddling in the 2016 election. While Mr. Mueller gave Michael significant credit for cooperation on the “core” issues, it is unfortunate that SDNY prosecutors did not do the same.
Still, Cohen has the opportunity to lessen his time behind bars through cooperation with investigators, so we'll see about that.
The government might be close to shutting down, but the drama in this probe is steadily flowing in. So that's a glimmer of good news for all those who are eager to see what happens in this never-ending drama.