Seven scenarios for how the Mueller probe might wrap up

1. Mueller sends the attorney general a simple “declination letter,” telling Bill Barr that he’s concluded his work as special counsel, the related grand jury has charged all identified crimes worthy of prosecution, and that there are no further cases to come. In some ways, a letter this simple—which itself would represent a stunning anticlimax to the most politically charged investigation in modern American history—would be the most “Mueller-like,” an understated and quiet end to the probe by a man who has always preferred to let his work speak for itself. If Mueller stops here, with no further meaty comment or additional charges, his probe will still rank as one of the most significant and eye-opening counterintelligence probes in American history—even though it would have failed to identify any direct “collusion” between Trump and Russia…

5. He offers a report, but not the report, something more akin to a progress report rather than a single, definitive one. This scenario could also include multiple reports—concerning perhaps not just the Russian probe but broader investigations into foreign influence in Washington. The Daily Beast hinted in December that Mueller was preparing a special report on Middle Eastern influence in the 2016 election, which might or might not be separate from the question of Russian influence in the campaign. This progress report could also announce that’s he finished investigating the “Big Question” (e.g., Russia’s role in the 2016 election) but that he intends to continue sorting through ancillary matters—like, for instance, the Roger Stone case, the House witness transcripts, or the foreign mystery defendant—for perhaps months or even years.

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