Special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who has been investigating potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, has filed his first charges, according to CNN. The charges, reportedly approved by a grand jury on Friday, remain under seal.
Who has been charged and the nature of the charges remain unknown. CNN reported that anyone charged could “be taken into custody as soon as Monday.”
The news comes as Republicans ratchet up efforts to undermine and distract from Mueller’s probe. Even as CNN broke the news of Mueller’s charges, Fox News was pushing the idea that the special prosecutor was “under pressure to resign.”
Fox News quotes a statement released Friday from Trent Franks (R-AZ), one of Trump’s most loyal allies in Congress, calling for Mueller to resign.
“The federal code could not be clearer – Mueller is compromised by his apparent conflict of interest in being close with James Comey,” Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., who first called for Mueller to step down over the summer, said in a statement to Fox News on Friday. “The appearance of a conflict is enough to put Mueller in violation of the code. … All of the revelations in recent weeks make the case stronger.”
The “revelations” Franks is referring to include the report that Democrats, including the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign, helped finance the partially-unverified Steele dossier, which explored Trump’s relationship with Russia. (The research was actually initiated by a conservative publication, The Free Beacon.) Another supposed “revelation” is the so-called Uranium One scandal, first advanced in July 2016 by Steve Bannon and long-since discredited.
The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, a paper owned by Fox News CEO Rupert Murdoch, called for Mueller’s resignation on Thursday. Murdoch has a close relationship with Trump and is considered a key adviser.
Another Trump ally, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, called on Mueller to resign on Fox & Friends, Trump’s favorite TV show, on Friday morning.
Trump himself has not ruled out firing Mueller, something that he could not do directly. Mueller would have to be fired by Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller after Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation. If Trump ordered Rosenstein to fire Mueller and Rosenstein refused, however, he could replace Rosenstein with someone who would carry out his wishes.