Transcript for Grand jury reportedly approves first criminal charges in Russia investigation
Good to be here. A live shot of the white house and tart with the breaking news that is almost certainly causing reverberations right there in that building. Very little doubt about that. We are talking about that reported bombshell on the Russia investigation. CNN says a grand jury has approved the first criminal charges in the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller. We've got team coverage and we start with ABC's senior justice correspondent Pierre Thomas in Washington leading us off. Pierre, good morning to you. Reporter: Dan, good morning. CNN is reporting that Mueller's special counsel team brought charges before a grand jury. We know attorneys from Mueller's office were at the federal courthouse here in D.C. Friday including one of his senior prosecutors who specializes in fraud cases. We've learned that there was a filing in court on Friday but we have no further reportable details. CNN's not reporting who might have been charged or what the charges could be. So this is a very unusual situation and it's unclear how significant these -- this potential action might be, Dan. What we know is Mueller's team has been investigating whether there was collusion between the trump campaign and Russian officials in connection with the 2016 presidential election and he's been investigating the financial dealings of a number of key trump associates including former campaign manager Paul manafort and Michael Flynn. Sources close to manafort say they have been given no indication any charges against him are imminent. We reached out to people tied to Flynn and got no comment but this is a reminder Mueller's investigation is sweeping, complicated and those who are being investigated are in legal jeopardy. Absolutely, Pierre. Thank you. Given the near daily drip on this Russia story it is easy to lose context of it all. Let's bring in ABC's Gloria Riviera with a look at what led up to these charges. Gloria, good morning. Reporter: Good morning. As you know president trump has long dismissed the Russia probe as a witch-hunt but new reports indicate the special counsel's investigation could be turning a new corner. Reportedly issuing the first charges that could implicate the president's own associates. President trump has long dismissed the Russia probe as nothing more than a political distraction. The whole Russia thing was an excuse for the Democrats losing the election and it turns out to be just one excuse. Reporter: And that message continues to the white house. Our position hasn't changed since day one. And I think we are seeing now that if there was any collusion with Russia it was between the DNC and the Clintons and certainly not our campaign. Reporter: Questions mounting over separate reports by CNN and "The Wall Street journal" saying the first criminal charges have been filed in independent counsel Bob corker's investigation into the alleged ties to the Russian government. The indictments are still sealed under orders from a federal judge. ABC news has not independently matched that reporting. The news comes at a time when we're also learning more about who was behind that infamous intelligence dossier alegging T tie S. The Washington beacon hired fusion gps to provide research on multiple the candidates but insists it did not pay for the dossier and did not have any dealings with the former British intelligence officer who ultimately produced the dossier citing Russian sources. Might have started with a Republicans early on in the primaries. I think I would know but let's find out who it is. I'm sure that will come out. Do you know who those Republicans are? I think I would have -- if I were to guess, I have one name in mind. Reporter: The house intelligence committee says it is working with the free beacon to verify its claims it had no involvement with the dossier and man who produced it. Thank you. Cecilia, I want to bring you in on this since you cover the white house every day. What do you think -- how are they reacting to this news about the first charges from Mueller. Certainly the public front is everything is calm, business as usual, one aide last night was tweeting it's quiet night at the white house. And certainly they're not going to back down from this claim that this is a witch-hunt that is the narrative. The president wag tweeting saying there is no collusion between the Russians and me. That is the public reaction. I can tell you from speaking to a lot of sources people are nervous in that they're lawyering up. The president has picked up the tab for some of those lawyers. This is an investigation certainly circling in and closing in on some aides close to the president and know these questions and know this investigation is not going away so privately people are definitely starting to feel this. Lots of lawyers involved. For more on all this let's bring in ABC news political commentator cokie Roberts in Washington. Cokie, let me ask you how nervous do you think the white house should be? Well, once these special prosecutors going it's very unsettling for white houses and grand juries leak and we start to learn lots of information and unfortunately though for the principles they don't leak enough. And so what you have is a lot of speculation and a lot of finger-pointing without a lot of facts and that goes on for months and months and months often and that can be very disspiriting to a white house because they're trying to get something done and they're constantly having to worry about this investigation and I think that's likely to go on for a long time. It 1er7b8 is on their mind if the president's tweets are any indication, cokie. But I want to ask you about something else that was in the news and has been at the top of all of our newscasts here. Those files that were just released in the JFK assassination. You have some personal experience with that. What do you think will come of all this? Well, my father was on the Warren commission an I do remember actually him being on the phone talking to Lyndon Johnson and saying, we need to name a blue ribbon commission, otherwise the American people will never feel like we've investigated this crime of the assassination. Now, of course, what happened was just the opposite, they were hoping to bring everything out and let the American people feel comfortable about the fact that they knew who the assassin was and now we've had these 40, 50 years of not knowing or of people feeling like there's something being hidden and by not having all -- every single one of the papers released on Thursday, what you have is the conspiracy starting right up again. Just stirring the pot of the Kennedy conspiracy people. Cokie, let me ask you about another story a little more current. A lot of people have been talking about this tiny company out of whitefish, Montana, that got hired to restore power in Puerto Rico. Some people are pointing out that the owner of the company has political ties to people in trump's orbit. How big a story do you think this is? I don't think this one goes terribly far. After a major disaster all kinds of funny things happen because there's a whole lot of money being thrown at a problem and people get rich off it. After the BP oil spill in Louisiana, the cynics were referring to spill yonaires and this one is likely toable off, not something we would have recommended on an ethical basis, but I don't think it's likely to rise to a major story. Not shady, our political guru cokie Roberts, thank you, cokie. Great to have you with us this
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