Five observations about the first indictment reportedly returned by the grand jury empaneled by Special Counsel Robert Mueller to investigate links between the Trump campaign and Russian interference with the 2016 election: First, an indictment means that a grand jury has found that probable cause exists to believe that a crime has been committed by a particular defendant or defendants. Probable cause means a reasonable basis or fair probability that a crime has been committed, a lower standard of proof than the guilt beyond a reasonable doubt required for conviction at trial. But Department of Justice policy provides that a prosecutor should file charges only if there is a reasonable likelihood of conviction at trial, where the standard of proof is guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Because Mueller is required to comply with DOJ policy, an indictment means that he and his team believe that they have evidence sufficient to meet this higher standard. Second, this is likely only the first of several indictments. One extreme scenario is that the sealed indictment charges President Trump himself. It is possible that Mueller has had sufficient time to complete his investigation of obstruction of justice against the President. The obstruction case would… Read full this story
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