The week that could unlock several of special counsel Mueller’s most tantalizing mysteries

The next five days are chock-full of court deadlines that will reveal some of the cards special counsel Robert Mueller has held so close to his vest, according to Politico. Between the final sentencing for former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, a trial date announcement for longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone, and status reports for two of Mueller’s most important cooperating witnesses (Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former deputy campaign manager Rick Gates), a picture will begin to crystallize of how and when Mueller plans to bring the Russia probe to a close. 

Manafort is set to be sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, following his insanely short four-year sentence last week on eight criminal counts of financial fraud. Berman has also been handling Stone’s case and she will be weighing a sentence of up to 10 years for Manafort on charges regarding his work as an unregistered foreign lobbyist for Ukraine, money laundering, witness tampering, and breaking the terms of his plea agreement. Berman will not only decide the length of Manafort’s sentencing for these crimes, but also whether he should serve the time concurrently with his other sentence.

While Manafort’s sentencing will bring closure to Mueller’s most high-profile court battle to date, Stone’s trial—date to be set Thursday—could actually hold a key to some of the biggest mysteries regarding the Russia probe. Stone is charged with lying to Congress about his 2016  contacts with WikiLeaks, the site that publicly released tranches of Russian-hacked emails damaging to the Clinton campaign. Mueller is requesting an October trial date and the team of prosecutors includes two Washington-based U.S. attorneys to whom Mueller could ultimately hand off the prosecution.

Whereas the crimes Manafort was convicted of were peripheral to the critical issues surrounding the Trump campaign’s Russia contacts, Stone’s crimes revolve around the far more central question of what the Trump campaign knew about Russian hacks, when they knew it, and who specifically knew it. On Thursday, Berman will also issue her ruling regarding how to handle Stone repeatedly violating the terms of his gag order in the case.

But the status reports scheduled on Wednesday for Flynn and Friday for Gates may provide the biggest clues yet about Mueller’s endgame.