Dread, expectation hang over Washington before Mueller sweep

(CNN)A mood of fateful anticipation is cloaking Washington, with possible arrests imminent after the federal grand jury in the Russia investigation approved its first charges. By taking one or more people into custody, a prospect first reported by CNN Friday, Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller would create a new, perilous reality for the White House, reflecting the gravity of the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election and alleged collusion by President Donald Trump's associates.

Trump and his team deny any wrongdoing, and so far there is no conclusive evidence from Mueller's closely held investigation or several congressional probes of nefarious links with the Russians. At minimum, news of charges will complicate the White House's argument that the Russia drama is nothing but a drummed up Democratic plot born of despair at Hillary Clinton's shocking loss last November, and be a distraction from the Republican tax reform effort this week.
More significantly, the charges could be the first step in a series of actions by the special counsel that strike at the heart of Trump's inner political and family circle, and could even put his presidency in jeopardy.
But the immediate political fallout of whatever unfolds in the coming days depends on who is initially targeted by Mueller, their proximity to Trump, and how the President reacts to this threshold being crossed. "The Dems are using this terrible (and bad for our country) Witch Hunt for evil politics, but the R's ... are now fighting back like never before," Trump tweeted Sunday. "There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING!"