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Catalina Lobo-Guerrero is a freelance journalist and anthropologist currently living in Barcelona, Spain. For the past decade she has been working as an investigative journalist and correspondent in Bogotá, Colombia and Caracas, Venezuela where has written about politics, corruption, the armed conflict and violence. Her work has been published by The New York Times, The Guardian, El País and other smaller and independent media outlets in Latin America.
Can he do that? is an interesting podcast by the Washington Post's team of reporters that explores the power and limitations of the American president, Donald Trump. In their final episode of 2018, Rosalind Helderman, the paper's political investigations reporter, goes over the key moments of former FBI director Robert Mueller's Russia probe. So far, 34 people have been charged with crimes, seven people have pleaded guilty, and one person was convicted by a jury.
Mueller's indictments have really helped to inform the American public about how the Russians used social media in very specific ways, how they were involved in hacking emails and influencing the campaign to determine the election. It has also exposed how the men surrounding President Trump have been involved in several other crimes. Paul Manafort, chairman of the campaign, and Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer, were convicted of eight counts, almost at the same time. Among those crimes are bank fraud, evading taxes, and obstruction.
The question is now whether these key figures were allies of the Russians and if they could end up implicating the president. Mueller has been pursuing a direct interview with Trump. Since he can't force him to sit down for questioning, he has been trying to negotiate with his legal team. The team is considering answering a list of written questions, but only about things that happened before the 2016 election and not about Trump using his power to obstruct the investigation, which has been a constant matter of concern.
How could this affect Trump in the following months? If Mueller's findings prove that Trump committed crimes, the Constitution does not allow the president to be indicted while in office. His report, however, could be used as grounds for an impeachment by Congress. Whatever happens in the investigation in 2019 will be a key factor in the next presidential election in 2020.