ANDERSON, Ind. (WISH) — Anderson University President John Pistole was second in command at the FBI when Robert Mueller, now leading the investigation into Russia’s election meddling, was in charge.
Monday led to the first bombshell from Mueller’s investigation. That came in the arrest of former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and his aide Rick Gates on money laundering, failing to register as foreign agents and conspiring against the United States. Former campaign advisor George Papadopoulos also pled guilty for lying to the FBI about his contact with Russia during the campaign.
“There’s a lot of smoke there,” said Pistole, while noting that none of this information proves any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
“That’s all part of a bigger piece that would say okay we are pursuing a lot of different areas,” he said. “How can this help us in the overall investigation?”
Also under the microscope for possible dealings with Russia is high-powered democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta, whose brother ran Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
With so many players involved who could be next? Pistole said you should be confident in Robert Mueller.
“He’s independent,” he said, “He’s going to follow facts wherever it leads him.”
But how can you stay independent with the story dominating headlines in newspapers, online and on television?
“Don’t look at the grand conspiracy because there may not be one but look at people who have allegedly broken the law or in Papadopoulos’s case, admitted to breaking the law, making a false statement to an FBI agent,” he said.
Pistole said the investigation is far from over. He said he thinks Papadopoulos cooperating with the FBI could mean he wore a wire and Manafort or Gates could cooperate to get their charges reduced.
But Pistole said that doesn’t mean more charges could be coming.
“It might be that he finds there’s no evidence to charge anybody and wrap up the investigation. I don’t think he’d have any qualms about that,” he said.
Pistole said it’s really important to keep an open mind as this investigation keeps going on. Read the documents for yourself, read newspaper articles and watch television reporting too.
He said a common misconception is that someone could be charged with collusion. He said that’s not a charge but it could lead to a presidential impeachment if the Mueller investigation finds any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. But again, right now, there isn’t any definitive proof.