Why a Facebook warrant could signal a turning point in Mueller's investigation
Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti says reports that special counsel Robert Mueller got a search warrant for Facebook content could be "the biggest news" related to since a .
CBS News has confirmed that Facebook turned over materials about Russian ad buys to Mueller's team, which is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and any ties to the Trump campaign.
Last week, Facebook acknowledged that phony accounts appearing to have originated in Russia bought $100,000 in advertising on its platform during the 2016 presidential election cycle and in the months after.
The Wall Street Journal first reported that Facebook gave Muellerabout the ad buys that far exceeded the information it gave to Congress. Facebook policy dictates that the company will only turn over "stored contents" of an account with a warrant, sources told the Journal. CNN subsequently reported a warrant was used to obtain the information.
In an interview with CBSN on Sunday, Mariotti said that until now, Mueller and his investigators were looking into fairly "narrow" and "specific crimes."
"Things like false disclosures on forms that Mr. Manafort or Michael Flynn made or Jared Kushner; things like obstruction as to the. For the first time here, what we've learned -- assuming that The Wall Street Journal's report about a search warrant is correct -- is that Bob Muller went to a federal judge and presented evidence and convinced the judge that a crime was committed involving foreign individuals contributing to a political election here in the United States through their actions on Facebook," Mariotti told CBS News' Elaine Quijano.
Mariotti believes this indicates that Mueller is "closing in on charging foreign individuals in connection with that, which is much more like the sort of thing I think lot of people speculated could come from the Mueller investigation, but frankly we hadn't seen up until now."
Mariotti said Mueller would have needed to do two things to secure the search warrant: prove there's good reason to believe a crime occurred and lay out evidence that the crime existed on Facebook.
Read more at CBSNews.com.