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The public release of the special counsel's report on Thursday provided a wide array of new information about some of the most important questions surrounding Russian interference in the 2016 election and the actions of President Donald Trump during his first two years in office.
But with more than 1,000 individual black redaction boxes scattered throughout the 448-page document, the report also raised new questions about what special counsel Robert Mueller and his team uncovered that Justice Department officials decided not to release to the public.
The most striking of these may be a list, almost completely redacted, of 14 instances of "potential criminal activity" the special counsel says it uncovered and handed over to other offices within the DOJ and in particular to the FBI, because it determined that the crimes involved were "outside the scope" of the special counsel's mandate.
Out of the 14 potential crimes for which Mueller uncovered evidence, only two have so far been made public. That means there are still 12 investigations that arose from the special counsel's probe about which the public knows nothing.
Here's how the special counsel describes them:
During the course of the investigation, the Office periodically identified evidence of potential criminal activity that was outside the scope of the Special Counsel's jurisdiction established by the Acting Attorney General. After consultation with the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, the Office referred that evidence to appropriate law enforcement authorities, principally other components of the Department of Justice and the FBI. Those referrals, listed alphabetically by subject, are summarized below.
It's a tantalizing mystery, made all the more so by the fact that the two probes which have so far been made public have targeted two of the most high-profile individuals to be caught up in the special counsel's web: Trump's longtime personal fixer and attorney, Michael Cohen, and the former White House counsel to President Barack Obama, Greg Craig.
The discovery of Cohen's potential crimes is the second item on the 14-item list. "During the course of the investigation, the Special Counsel's Office uncovered evidence of potential wire fraud and [Federal Election Campaign Act] violations pertaining to Michael Cohen. That evidence was referred to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York and the FBI's New York Field Office," wrote the special counsel.
Craig's case is No. 5 on the list. "During the course of the [Foreign Agents Registration Act] investigation of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, the Special Counsel's Office uncovered evidence of potential FARA violations pertaining to Gregory Craig, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP (Skadden), and their work on behalf of the government of Ukraine," the report said.
Craig was indicted earlier this month on two counts of lying to federal investigators about the nature of past lobbying work he did for the government of Ukraine. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and is expected to face trial later this year.
Cohen pleaded guilty in August of last year to eight federal criminal counts, including campaign finance violations, bank fraud and wire fraud — the same ones that Mueller describes having handed off to U.S. attorneys in New York to pursue. Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for his crimes and is expected to begin serving his sentence next month.
But as for the other 12 potential crimes on the list that Mueller referred out, it's still anyone's guess what they could be. All 12 numbered sections are blacked out and marked "HOM" for "Harm to Ongoing Matter," the Justice Department's shorthand for information that could compromise an ongoing investigation if it were to be made public.
The report contains no hints, footnotes or unredacted lines that point to what any of the 12 criminal probes could be about or upon whom they might be focused.
Judging from the Cohen and Craig entries, it would appear that each of the 12 investigations involves an entirely unique topic and not just one element of an interwoven criminal case. But even this is purely speculative.
The only sure bet is that this is not the last the public can expect to hear about these 12 cases.