The investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election just took a turn that may change the nature of the probe dramatically. According to multiple reports, FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller has obtained a search warrant for Facebook’s records of the “inauthentic” accounts they shut down earlier this month that were tied to targeted ads during the presidential election.
Legal experts agree that the implications of this search warrant on the direction of Mueller’s investigation are huge.
“This is big news — and potentially bad news for the Russian election interference ‘deniers,'” said Asha Rangappa, a former FBI counterintelligence agent. She explained that in order for a prosecutor to get a search warrant, he has to have some kind of proof that a crime has been committed.
“The key here, though, is that Mueller clearly already has enough information on these accounts — and their link to a potential crime to justify forcing [Facebook] to give up the info,” Rangappa said. “That means that he has uncovered a great deal of evidence through other avenues of Russian election interference.”
Renato Mariotti, who was formerly a federal prosecutor and is currently a partner at Thompson Coburn LLP, said that Mueller’s latest warrant “may be the biggest news in the case since the Manafort raid.”
This warrant “means that Mueller has concluded that specific foreign individuals committed a crime by making a ‘contribution’ in connection with an election,” Mariotti wrote on Saturday.
“It also means that he has evidence of that crime that convinced a federal magistrate judge of two things: first, that there was good reason to believe that the foreign individual committed the crime. Second, that evidence of the crime existed on Facebook,” he added.
Mariotti noted that it isn’t just Trump who could find himself in trouble as a result of the Facebook warrant. His crooked cronies could find themselves charged with crimes too.
“It is a crime to know that a crime is taking place and to help it succeed. That’s aiding and abetting. If any Trump associate knew about the foreign contributions that Mueller’s search warrant focused on and helped that effort in a tangible way, they could be charged,” he explained.
Mueller isn’t the only one interested in the matter. Congressional intelligence committees are taking a close look at the Trump campaign’s data operations as well. The House Intelligence Committee would very much like to have a little chat with Brad Parscale, who worked hand-in-hand with Jared Kushner as Trump’s digital director during the campaign.
It’s just a matter of time until Mueller nails Trump to the wall. Mark my words, it’s coming. We all know Trump colluded with Russia and sooner or later, Mueller is going to find a way to prove it.
Featured image via Gage Skidmore/Flickr