Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has not given special counsel Robert Mueller a certain date by which his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election must be completed, a source within the Justice Department familiar with the investigation said.
But speculation that it will wrap up immediately after the November midterm elections is off the mark, the source said. Instead, the probe is expected to wind down by the end of the year.
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"Mueller and his team have to provide a confidential report to Rosenstein at the end of the investigation," the source said. "As far as timing, the investigation is obviously ongoing, and I'd expect it to continue well after the midterms."
Rosenstein, who oversees the investigation, on Wednesday called the probe "appropriate and independent," in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, but declined to comment on when it would end.
How and when exactly Mueller's investigation will finally conclude has captured significant public attention as President Donald Trump fiercely maintains that his campaign did not collude with the Kremlin.
To date, the investigation has yielded guilty pleas from four former campaign officials, but Trump has complained that the investigation is unfounded and a waste of taxpayer money.
One of the complicating factors surrounding its completion date, however, is the fact that his legal team is still working on providing written answers to Mueller's questions. Additionally, his team has not reached a final agreement on whether the President will sit down for an interview about possible obstruction of justice related to his firing of FBI Director James Comey.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes the special counsel's team continues to use a special grand jury in Washington, is interviewing witnesses and has met with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort at least nine times in recent weeks.
Yet the source pushed back against a recent report that suggested Mueller is facing "intensifying pressure" to deliver additional indictments or "shut down" his investigation as inaccurate. The source would not discuss any of the potential findings in the report to come.