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Comey says Manafort plea deal may mean it’s the ‘fourth quarter’ of Mueller investigation

"The way you normally do investigations is you work from the bottom up, and so they're getting pretty high."

Donald Trump shakes hands with James Comey in the Blue Room of the White House on January 22, 2017. (Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images)
Donald Trump shakes hands with James Comey in the Blue Room of the White House on January 22, 2017. (Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images)

Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, agreed to a plea deal on Friday that includes cooperation with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

Though Manafort’s plea agreement signals a major moment in the special counsel’s probe, especially since it contains “pardon-proof” language to prevent Trump from exonerating his former campaign manager, Mueller’s team has been notoriously tight-lipped about its work.

James Comey, the former FBI director who was fired by Trump in May 2017 after the president reportedly requested “loyalty” from him and allegedly asked Comey to stop the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russia, told NPR’s St. Louis Public Radio he believes Manafort’s plea deal “may represent that we’re in the fourth quarter” of Mueller’s probe.

When (host Don) Marsh asked him where he thinks the Mueller investigation is at currently, Comey said there’s “an argument to be made that the conviction – the plea and cooperation by Paul Manafort – may represent that we’re in the fourth quarter.”

“The way you normally do investigations is you work from the bottom up, and so they’re getting pretty high,” he said. “But again, the reason I’m hesitant to even say that is [because] Bob Mueller’s conducted his investigation like a pro – you know nothing about it except through his public filings, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. And so I can’t say with certainty where he is.”

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Despite Trump’s ongoing claims that Mueller’s investigation is a “witch hunt,” it has resulted in over 100 criminal charges against dozens of people, including guilty pleas from Trump’s former national security adviser, former campaign manager, and multiple former campaign advisers.