After Manafort: what's next for the Mueller investigation?

(8 November 2017)  The Mueller investigation continues to keep Washington on edge.   Five months into the job, special counsel Robert Mueller has brought down his first indictments against members of the Trump campaign on the question of Russian involvement with the 2016 election.  Last week, former campaign chair Paul Manafort and top aide Rick Gates were both indicted of several charges including tax evasion, money laundering and  conspiracy against the United States.  Notably absent was any explicit mention of possible collusion with Russia during the election, however.

In a previous post, I thought the alignment of planets in late November and early December suggested that might be a more critical time for the investigation.   I wondered if Mueller's first indictments might have actually be more likely come down at that time.  On that question, I was off the mark.  But I would still think that there is much more to come from Bob Muller and that the early December Mercury-Saturn conjunction could still coincide with an even more significant development in the investigation.  Let's see how the Manafort indictment manifested in the key charts to get a better sense of how this drama could play out.

Mueller was appointed special counsel to conduct the Russia investigation on 17 May 2017.  The appointment became public knowledge at 3.00 p.m. although he was no doubt actually appointed some time before this.  Nonetheless, let's use the 3 p.m horoscope to see if we can track developments as they unfold.   In my previous discussion, I did not yet know the exact time of the appointment hence it is worthwhile to take a closer look at it. 

The chart is very strong and is an apt reflection of Mueller's task.  The first degree of Virgo rises suggesting its analytical nature and 1st lord Mercury is in the 8th house (scandals, obstacles, research into the unknown) with Uranus (unconventional and independent things).   It's hard to think of a better astro-signature for Mueller's special investigation into the possibility that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to win the election. 

The Sun is particularly strong in the 9th house of law and justice and reflects Mueller's integrity and largely unassailable character.  It seems likely that this investigation will also be held to his usual high ethical standards.  However, the presence of Rahu (North Lunar Node) in the 12th house near the equal cusp raises the possibility of secret interference in the investigation from hidden sources, including those beyond US borders. 

The investigation is likely to be considered successful in terms of achieving its goals since the 11th lord of ambition and gains, the Moon, is very tightly aspected by benefic Jupiter.  The strong Moon placement also hints at the public popularity that the investigation could enjoy.  For its part, Jupiter is placed in the 1st house and should also be seen as a reflection of the judicial nature of the investigation as well as indicative of its high ethical quality. 

Saturn in the 4th house may represent the investigation's methodical and relentless work .  The 4th house is linked to emotions and Saturn's presence there essentially blocks or downplays outward signs of emotion.  Again, this is more or less what one would expect from a respected legal inquiry.  The even-keeled Mueller is the polar opposite of the unpredictable and emotional Trump.  And yet we should also note that the trine aspect from Rahu to Saturn can produce an obsessively methodical approach with regard to process.  There is a single-minded and narrow quality here in this Saturn that can cause problems down the road.  No doubt Trump's allies have been warning about this possibility already as the investigation could veer off into unforeseen areas that lie beyond the purview of its original mandate. But I would think the Rahu-Saturn combination should give us real caution about the possibility that the investigation could become a self-perpetuating fishing expedition or tone-deaf to common sense criticism.  

Beyond the Manafort Indictment

The Manafort indictments took place on 30th October just a few days after Saturn had re-entered Sagittarius.  It was therefore sitting exactly on the equal 4th house cusp and was square to the Ascendant.  That is a very powerful situation for Saturn and symbolizes discipline, obligation and onerous labours.   Transiting Jupiter (10 Libra) was just past its opposition to Mercury and suggests the correct/successful application of efforts.  The positive influence upon Mercury is doubly important here because it is both the Lagnesh (ruler of the 1st house) and it is the minor dasha lord until early January 2018.  The Moon is the major dasha lord for the duration of the investigation.  The indictments were generally well-received as the public finally got some evidence behind all the partisan rumours and politicking.

The next couple of weeks look more contentious for the investigation.  The problem is that the natal Mars (24 Taurus) receives the trine aspect of Ketu (South Lunar Node).  Ketu tends to exaggerate or distort the energy of the planet it comes in contact with.  Here Mars in the 9th may simply be conflict, perhaps pertaining to legal principles (9th house).  It's proximity to the 10th house cusp, however, may mean that this Mars affliction relates to Mueller's stature and profile.  There are any number of scenarios possible here.  Perhaps Mueller's credibility is more explicitly undermined by the White House.  Or the investigation encounters significant resistance in terms of its process or legal legitimacy. 

One specific time window to watch may be November 18-20 when transiting Mars (24 Virgo) aligns with both transiting Ketu and natal Mars.   It is worth noting that Mars will be exactly conjunct Donald Trump's Jupiter (law, ethics) indicating conflict and frustration.   Transiting Mercury (24 Scorpio) will be opposite the natal investigation Mars on the 18th so that is another reason to expect some tense developments at this time. 

Could Mueller be dismissed?  The chances of something along those lines are certainly higher given these transits but the chart does not look sufficiently afflicted to reflect the end of his tenure as special counsel.  But that is just my subjective judgment.  I could be wrong.  I don't know what lesser scenarios could be possible along those lines. Could something like a time or budgetary limit be imposed by the White House?  Or could Trump issue a public threat or ultimatum to dismiss Mueller?  It's definitely possible.  I do think that Mueller will be confronted by a difficult situation in mid- to late-November that makes his task much harder to perform.  I see that Barack Obama's chart gets hit with the same Mars-Ketu alignment to his Ascendant and equal 9th house cusp at that time.  It's usually not reflective of a pleasant situation. 

Then we return again to the early December Mercury-Saturn conjunction which seems likely to put Trump back on his heels.  But the investigation chart is also very stressed at this time and may be indicative of more contentious charges that are laid.  That was the expectation in the previous post and that could still prove to be the case. 

I would also note that starting in January, the Mueller investigation horoscope enters the Moon-Ketu dasha period.  Ketu is placed in the 6th house of adversaries and so I would think that the investigation encounters more headwinds in terms of public criticism and political obstacles.   Also transiting Ketu is due to conjoin the natal Moon from February to April so that could be a time when progress is blocked and Mueller comes under harassment and increased scrutiny.  The Moon-Ketu period lasts until August 2018 so the investigation may only resume its forward progress -- whatever that may look like -- after that date.  The subsequent Moon-Venus period from Aug 2018 to Apr 2020 looks more positive for the investigation chart and hints at longer term success in fulfilling its mandate. 

Weekly Market Forecast

Stocks have stayed buoyant for the most part over the past week as improving global growth is underwriting the market.  Last week's strong US jobs report also boosted sentiment.  Furthermore, President Trump made the safe choice and appointed the dovish Jerome "Jay" Powell to be the next Fed Chair after Janet Yellen.   Powell is widely seen as continuing Yellen's commitment to ultra-low interest rates which are bullish for stocks.  US stocks are still near record highs as the Dow closed Wednesday at 23,563.  Indian stocks pulled back a bit in the early part of the week but the Sensex is still sitting at a lofty 33,218.  This ongoing rally is more or less in keeping with my expectations for early November given the strong position of Jupiter in Libra. The Sun and Venus are also in Libra at this time and are buttressing sentiment.

The Venus-Jupiter conjunction takes place next Monday, 13th November and introduces the possibility of more volatility into the market. Once the conjunction is completed on the 13th, there may be less optimism available for investors.  Next week therefore generally looks more bearish than this week as the odds of a pullback are increasing as we get further into November.  And as we approach the upcoming Mercury-Saturn conjunction and Mercury retrograde station in early December, there is a stronger astrological argument for a larger pullback in stock markets.

For more details and analysis on market trends for this week, this month and this year, please check out my weekly MVA Investor Newsletter.  The newsletter is published every Saturday and includes extended discussion of US and Indian stock markets, as well as gold, oil and major currencies.

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