Mueller probe winding down? Prosecutors leave team while proof of ‘Russia collusion’ remains elusive

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                <figcaption>Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs after briefing the U.S. House Intelligence Committee on his investigation of potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 20, 2017. © Aaron P. Bernstein / <span class="copyright">Reuters</span></figcaption>
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                        <strong>The departure of two prosecutors from the team of Special Counsel Robert Mueller has signaled that at least part of his probe is winding down. The investigation has yet to reveal any collusion between Russia and Donald Trump.</strong>

        The two prosecutors, who had worked on the criminal cases involving former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, are returning to their previous posts at the Justice Department. They join two other attorneys who left the team over the summer.

[CBS/FOX/AP SAYS 2; ABC SAYS … 13?]

The pair’s exit from the special counsel team comes less than a month after Manafort pleaded guilty to two criminal charges – neither related to the alleged collusion with Russia which Mueller’s team set out to uncover. Manafort reportedly met with Mueller’s investigators on Monday, as part of his cooperation agreement with the special counsel’s investigation.

Some pundits reacted to the news by feigning surprise about the existence of the probe – perhaps a reference to the investigation’s long but unfruitful attempt to fulfil its mandate.

However, others have insisted that the probe is still going strong despite the downsizing of the team. ABC interviewed a former federal prosecutor who said that the departures were “not unexpected and simply reflect the evolving nature of this investigation,” adding that Mueller “is narrowing his focus and he no longer needs some areas of expertise.”

Whatever form the probe may now take, it appears that Mueller isn’t any closer to finding links between Trump’s presidential campaign and the Kremlin. Meanwhile, the probe’s entire premise has become increasingly scrutinized, with congressional investigations revealing that the probe may have been launched without any concrete evidence of an alleged Trump-Russia link even being established.

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