UNITED STATES: Developments in Mueller investigation likely to prompt political upheaval
President Donald Trump
Since the investigation began in May 2017, over 30 individuals, including five of Trump's former aides, have been issued with indictments for a range of federal crimes. All five of Trump's aides, including Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, have since pleaded guilty to charges made against them. Cohen admitted on 29 November at a federal courthouse in New York City that he had lied to Congress about the proposed construction of a skyscraper, to be known as 'Trump Tower', in the Russian capital Moscow. His claim sparked a furious reaction from Trump, who lambasted his former lawyer on Twitter. However, none of these charges yet relate to Russia's alleged interference or the campaign team's suspected co-operation with Russia.
Other developments in the probe indicate a heightened likelihood of significant partisan confrontation in Congress over the investigation in the six-month outlook. On 20 November, Trump submitted written answers to approximately a dozen questions covering five topics posed by Mueller. These relate to issues prior to Trump's 2016 election victory, and are therefore likely to include questions about his business dealings with Russia and his campaign team's contacts with members of the Russian government.
The indictments against Trump's associates and their guilty pleas are likely to be followed by further charges against both Trump's business associates and his 2016 campaign team
Recent developments have heightened the risk of political instability, which would have important implications for the Trump presidency, his legislative agenda, and the national and international economy.The firing of Sessions and recent moves in Mueller's investigation have raised the likelihood of the Russia probe dominating U.S. politics in the six-month outlook. The indictments against Trump's associates and their guilty pleas are likely to be followed by further charges against both Trump's business associates and his 2016 campaign team. Trump has repeatedly described the investigation as a 'witch hunt' and his request for Sessions' resignation has already shown that he has attempted to limit the effectiveness of the probe and denigrate its special counsel.