Mueller’s net is tightening around Trump’s inner circle

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is significantly turning up the heat on President Trump. While the president once again attacks his own attorney general and declares himself the victim of a “witch hunt,” he faces increasingly ominous signs that Mueller has the president’s innermost circle — and Trump himself — in his sights.

Mueller’s investigation has at least three tracks: 1) Russian interference with the 2016 election and the possible involvement of any Trump officials; 2) obstruction of justice and related coverup crimes; and 3) ancillary crimes discovered during the investigation, such as the money-laundering and other charges filed against Paul Manafort. In the past few days there have been reports of intensifying investigative activity focused on Trump’s own actions in all three areas.

Two weeks ago Mueller indicted 13 Russian nationals on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States. As extensive and startling as the indictment was, it said nothing about other known incidents involving Russians and the Trump campaign, including the strategic leaking of emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager and the various reported contacts between Russians and members of the Trump campaign. Now reports suggest Mueller may be focused on a different potential conspiracy, this one involving Russian actors and Trump campaign officials or the president himself.