CBSNewYork (CBSNewYork/CBS News/AP) — A federal grand jury has approved special counsel Robert Mueller‘s first charges in his investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s presidential election, CBS News confirmed.
The indictment is sealed but is expected to become public as early as Monday, CBS News reports. The nature of the charges is not clear, nor is the identity or number of individuals targeted.
CNN first reported the charges Friday night.
“What I suspect, given that the investigation appears to be ongoing, is that Mueller has decided to indict certain individuals in the hope that they will – what we call, flip,” said former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti. “In other words, that they’ll agree to cooperate with the investigation.”
Mariotti says the most obvious potential targets are former national security adviser Michael Flynn and President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, whose Virginia home was raided by the FBI in July.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and called the investigation a witch hunt.
Russia has also denied allegations that it interfered in the election.
Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski downplayed the significance of the charges Saturday on Fox News Channel.
“The speculation is so insane right now. What we should be focusing on are the continued lies of the Clinton administration – the continued fallacies that they perpetuate,” he said.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s office is not commenting on whether he was briefed on possible charges, and spokesperson for the special counsel also declined to comment to CBS News.
Rosenstein appointed Mueller special counsel in May, and Mueller was given a broad mandate to investigate and prosecute any potential crimes he uncovered. The appointment came after Mr. Trump fired then-FBI director James Comey and Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation, delegating oversight of the probe to Rosenstein.
CBS News’ Andres Triay, Paula Reid and Clare Hymes contributed to this report.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)