According to Fox News, the probes had been quiet for months since Mueller referred them to authorities in New York City because they fell outside his mandate of determining whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia. But in a flurry of new activity, Justice Department prosecutors in the last several weeks have begun interviewing witnesses and contacting lawyers to schedule additional questioning related to the Podesta Group and Mercury Public Affairs, people familiar with the inquiry anonymously told the Associated Press.
“Use immunity” means prosecutors agreed not to use any statements Podesta would make on the witness stand against him in court. “Use immunity” is not as expansive as “transactional immunity” — which would have protected Podesta more broadly from being prosecuted on the subject matter of his testimony, even if prosecutors could independently confirm relevant details and didn’t need to use his statements on the stand. Manafort averted the D.C. trial by pleading guilty to two federal counts in September and agreeing to cooperate with the Mueller probe, meaning Podesta did not have to testify at all. That development seemingly rendered the immunity deal moot as to any potential future prosecutorial action involving Podesta.
Mueller’s team has since said Manafort violated that agreement, and the Special Counsel’s office is set to file a sentencing memorandum in Manafort’s case on Friday that is expected to include prosecutors’ recommended sentence for him. Podesta is a longtime Democratic operative whose brother, John Podesta, ran Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign; Weber is a former Republican congressman from Minnesota. Neither man has been charged with any crimes. Their firms have defended the decisions by saying they relied on the advice of outside attorneys. Mueller’s referral also involved Craig, a former White House counsel for President Barack Obama. Craig supervised a report authored on behalf of the Ukrainian government, and Mueller’s team has said Manafort helped Ukraine hide that it paid more than $4 million for the work. CNN reported in September that prosecutors were weighing charges against Craig.