Western civilization and culture as we know them depend on Mr. Mueller’s Investigation – M.N.

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I do not think that it would be a big exaggeration to say that the very fate and the directions of the western civilization and culture as we know them depend on Mr. Mueller’s Investigation: its thoroughness, objectivity, depth, completeness, expanse, etc., etc.; and also on its conclusions, impacts, and the follow-up results.  – Michael Novakhov


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“This is a counterintelligence operation first and foremost.” – Inside Robert Mueller’s Army | FBI News and Selected Articles in brief – 11:18 AM 8/24/2017

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“This is a counterintelligence operation first and foremost.”

To probe alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, the special counsel has essentially built his own miniature Justice Department. Meet the experts he’s recruited.

Source: Inside Robert Mueller’s Army

In conclusion

To be sure, the most interesting parts of Mueller’s investigation are likely happening far from public view. Most of the coverage of the probe has focused on its criminal component. But Mueller’s top priority is likely a counterespionage operation, which James Comey confirmed was underway when he testified before Congress (and before his firing).

Naveed Jamali, a former double agent for the FBI who dealt with Russian espionage in the U.S., said this part of the effort won’t necessarily have to do with criminal charges or court proceedings.

“The goal with a counterintelligence operation is to detect and neutralize threats,” said Jamali, author of How to Catch a Russian Spy. “That’s it. If you apply that to the Mueller probe, anything that was used by the Russians against us during the election is a threat that has to be neutralized. That doesn’t mean that it has to be brought to court.”

Simply proving, beyond a shadow of a doubt, who interfered with the 2016 election on behalf of Russia and how they did it would be a significant success for the probe, he added.

“The legal part of this is so fucking boring,” he added. “This is a counterintelligence operation first and foremost.”

mueller – Google News

Inside Robert Mueller’s Army – Daily Beast


Daily Beast
Inside Robert Mueller’s Army
Daily Beast
The following details—gleaned from conversations with people familiar with President Donald Trump’s legal team, as well as intelligence experts and friends of the people working for special counsel Robert Mueller—help explain the broad range of legal 

Inside Robert Mueller’s Army

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In a secure location in southwest Washington, D.C., with access to a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility for classified material, 16 of the country’s top lawyers have passed the last several months working on an investigation that will likely be as consequential as it is secretive.

The following details—gleaned from conversations with people familiar with President Donald Trump’s legal team, as well as intelligence experts and friends of the people working for special counsel Robert Mueller—help explain the broad range of legal and counterintelligence experts he’s assembled. Mueller has essentially built his own miniature Justice Department.

Andrew Weissmann

Weissmann has spent most of his career in the Justice Department—first in the Eastern District of New York, and now at Main Justice. He’s on detail from his position overseeing fraud prosecutions to work with Mueller.

It isn’t their first tour of duty together. Weissmann was Mueller’s general counsel at the FBI for years.

A former FBI official who worked with him there told The Daily Beast that unlike many government attorneys, Weissmann rarely equivocated or dilly-dallied about decisions.

“He was not a paper tiger,” the former official said.

The former official said Weissmann argued doggedly for the FBI’s positions when officials there disagreed with the legal views of attorneys at DOJ headquarters—and was sometimes willing to raise his voice and use obscenities.

“This isn’t gonna fuckin’ stand!” Weissmann yelled at one meeting where FBI officials discussed their differences with the Justice Department, according to that source.

It’s a trait that won him fans at the FBI, and countless foes among criminal defense lawyers. Weissmann generated enormous anger for the hardball tactics he used when he ran the Enron probe—especially his prosecution of the accounting firm Arthur Andersen, which resulted in more than 20,000 people losing their jobs and zero convictions. One prominent white collar defense attorney vowed that Weissmann would never work in private practice because he was so despised over the Andersen case. Despite that, Weissmann made a pit stop at the private firm Jenner & Block for a few years before returning to the FBI.

James Quarles

Quarles is part of the old guard of Washington lawyers and worked on the Watergate prosecution. Besides Mueller himself, Quarles seems to deal with Trump’s legal team more than just about anybody else on the probe.

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“Ty [Cobb, one of the president’s lawyers] and I have had excellent relations with [Quarles] and Bob [Mueller], and we are very much appreciative,” said John Dowd, one of the president’s attorneys.

Along with Weissmann, Quarles is one of the most senior people on Mueller’s team. A person familiar with Mueller’s management style said it’s safe to assume Weissmann and Quarles have managerial roles on the probe.

Quarles was a partner at WilmerHale—the predominantly Democratic law firm where Mueller worked before becoming the special counsel—along with a host of other attorneys involved in the probe.

Those include Jamie Gorelick, who was second in command at the Justice Department under Janet Reno and who has represented Jared Kushner on issues related to his security clearance; and Reg Brown, also a partner at the firm, who represented Paul Manafort until about two weeks ago. (Multiple sources told The Daily Beast that Manafort is facing financial strain because of legal costs.)

Aaron Zebley

Zebley is a Mueller whisperer. He was Mueller’s chief of staff at the FBI, often acting as a go-between for Mueller and the bureau’s senior officials, according to Ron Hosko, formerly an assistant FBI director. Mueller mentored Zebley and guided him through the bureau, according to a former DOJ official.

Zebley seems to have a pretty good poker face.

“You could you be giving him your view and he could be thinking, ‘This guy’s a complete idiot’ or ‘This information is completely misshaped!’ and you’d never know,” said a former FBI official who worked with him.

Zebley accompanied Mueller when he briefed the Senate Judiciary Committee on his investigation, according to a source familiar with the meeting.

Jeannie Rhee

Besides Weissmann, Rhee is the attorney whose presence on Mueller’s team has most irked the president’s allies. She previously represented the Clinton Foundation and was an official in the Justice Department’s prestigious Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) during the Obama administration.

A person familiar with the president’s legal team said its representatives have tried to communicate to the special counsel that they worry Rhee’s presence on the team could result in it moving in a partisan direction.

People who know Rhee say that’s laughable. John Bies, who worked alongside her in OLC, said Rhee felt deep personal responsibility for the work of the office.

“She was anxious and had a real sense of responsibility about getting it right,” he told The Daily Beast.

Rhee was also a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., where she worked on the prosecution of teachers’ union officials who embezzled millions of dollars to buy tickets to Wizards games and fur coats, according to The Washington Post. And though conservative media figures have criticized Rhee for past contributions to Democrats, she supported the confirmation of Republican Rachel Brand as associate attorney general.

Michael Dreeben

A longtime Washington attorney told The Daily Beast it’s unthinkable that Mueller would have executed the search warrant to raid Manafort’s house without the sign-off of Michael Dreeben.

On the team investigating Russian interference, Dreeben’s legend is second only to that of Mueller’s. Dreeben has spent years in the solicitor general’s office of the Justice Department and has argued before the Supreme Court more than 100 times.

Numerous Washington lawyers said he knows more about U.S. criminal law than anyone else on the planet. One attorney described him as “a demigod of the legal world, respected and feared by everyone in the realm of criminal law.”

Peter Vincent, a former senior DHS official, said Dreeben is an “absolute superstar.” Harold Koh, the top lawyer at the State Department under President Barack Obama, called Dreeben a “brilliant, brilliant lawyer.”

“He’s extremely rational, like Mr. Spock,” Koh added. “He’s not a joker.”

Bies, who has also worked with Dreeben, said the Star Trek comparison was apt “only if you recognize that Dr. Spock was half human, and has emotions in addition to rationality.”

Andrew Goldstein

Goldstein is one of a handful of New Yorkers who headed to D.C. to work on the probe. He’s on detail from his post as head of the Southern District of New York’s public corruption unit. Before taking that job—where he prosecuted New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and helped dismantle the Liberty Reserve criminal enterprise, which laundered hundreds of millions of dollars using online currency—he was a staff writer for Time magazine, where he covered the Columbine shooting.

Goldstein is the son of Jonathan Goldstein, who was the United States attorney for the District of New Jersey. President Richard Nixon nominated him for that post in 1974.

Elkan Abramowitz, a criminal defense attorney who has practiced in New York for years and has dealt with Andrew Goldstein on legal matters, said he’s widely respected.

“What really is important about him is his judgment,” Abramowitz told The Daily Beast. “He’s very temperate and solid. I would trust his judgment. For example, if he were to conclude that there was insufficient evidence, his judgment could be relied on. If he were to conclude otherwise, his judgment also could be relied on.”

Elizabeth Prelogar

Before heading to the firm Hogan and Lovells and then to the solicitor general’s office, Elizabeth Prelogar was a Fulbright scholar in Russia (and speaks Russian). Neal Katyal, who worked with Prelogar and Dreeben as acting solicitor general during the Obama administration, said she was “perhaps the best young lawyer with whom I have ever worked.”

“If I were hand-picking a team of the very best lawyers in the nation, regardless of whatever the issues in a case may be, both of them would be at the top of the list,” he added, “and I know that sentiment is shared by both Republican and Democratic lawyers alike.”

Prelogar is widely viewed as a rising star in the Justice Department.

Brandon Van Grack

Brandon Van Grack is referred to by friends as “BVG.” Josh Geltzer, who heads Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, worked down the hall from Van Grack when they were both in the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

“It would absolutely make sense that a small team like this would want him at their core because of how impossible it is not to get along with him,” Geltzer said.

Van Grack prosecuted counter-espionage cases and is on loan to the probe from the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia, where he is on the national security and international crime unit.

Van Grack has prosecuted a host of crimes that seem to provide extremely relevant experience for his work with Mueller. He’s gone after a member of the Assad-aligned Syrian Electronic Army, helped lock up an Iranian national who tried to smuggle sophisticated technology out of the U.S., and helped successfully prosecute a Michigander who tried to spy for China.

His biggest claim to fame, though—and “fame” may be too strong a word here—is his work prosecuting Ardit Ferizi, a hacker who shared a kill list with ISIS. That was the first time the Justice Department convicted a hacker for providing material support to a terrorist organization.

Rush Atkinson

Like Van Grack, Atkinson has worked in the Eastern District of Virginia on espionage cases and in the DOJ’s National Security Division. He’s on detail to the special counsel from the fraud section of the DOJ’s criminal division, where he worked under Weissmann.

Zainab Ahmad

Of the younger lawyers on Mueller’s team, Ahmad has by far the highest profile. The New Yorker profiled her earlier this year because she has successfully prosecuted 13 terrorism suspects, according to the magazine, and has yet to lose in court.

Aaron Zelinsky

Zelinsky, who went to Yale for undergrad and law school, clerked for Judge Thomas Griffith, a George W. Bush appointee. He also worked under Rod Rosenstein when he was U.S. attorney for Maryland—two GOP-friendly résumé lines that critics of the Mueller probe never mention.

Zelinsky also worked under Koh at the State Department during the Obama administration, where he helped handle hostage negotiations. When American journalist Clare Gillis was held hostage in Libya, Koh said Zelinsky spoke with her family every night.

“The guy was mid- to late-20s, talking to a family that doesn’t know whether their daughter is alive or dead, and are eager for scraps of info,” Koh said. “And he showed tremendous discretion. He never over-promised.”

Koh said Zelinsky also had impressive foresight. At one point, the State Department determined Gillis’s captors were moving her toward Tripoli.

“Aaron comes to me and says, ‘I think we need to call NATO HQ and tell them not to bomb that road,’” Koh said.

Gillis was ultimately freed, along with fellow hostage James Foley. Foley was later taken captive in Syria and beheaded in 2014 by ISIS fighters.

Adam Jed

Jed is one of the only people on Mueller’s team who has never worked as a prosecutor. The Harvard Law graduate has held several posts in the Justice Department, most recently handling appellate litigation in the Civil Division.

“He’s a very smart careful appellate lawyer,” said Bies. “The fact that him and the other solicitor general’s office people were brought in shows Mueller’s playing the long game and thinking carefully about where things will go—not just in the investigation, but down the road when they have to litigate issues in the courts.”

One attorney who practices federal criminal defense noted that Jed has experience handling asset forfeiture, which could be useful if the probe deals with property purchased using criminal proceeds.

Greg Andres

Like Weissmann and Ahmad, Andres worked in the Eastern District of New York U.S. attorney’s office—where Judge Beryl Howell, who is overseeing Mueller’s D.C. grand jury, and former attorney general Loretta Lynch were also prosecutors. During Andres’ time in Brooklyn, he worked on organized crime cases, just like Weissmann.

Andres’ wife, Judge Ronnie Abrams, recused herself from two cases involving the Trump family because of her husband’s work.

Andres is one of the most celebrated trial lawyers currently practicing law. He prosecuted mafia figures and white collar criminals before going into private practice.

In an interview with Law360 published in May 2016, Andres said trial lawyers should always project confidence.

“Be confident, straightforward and well prepared,” he said. “Judges, juries and adversaries can sense a lack of conviction and are unforgiving with respect to overstatement or misrepresentations. Emphasize the strengths of your case but acknowledge and concede the weak facts or legal precedent. Failing to cite adverse authority or hiding bad facts can be devastating.”

In conclusion

To be sure, the most interesting parts of Mueller’s investigation are likely happening far from public view. Most of the coverage of the probe has focused on its criminal component. But Mueller’s top priority is likely a counterespionage operation, which James Comey confirmed was underway when he testified before Congress (and before his firing).

Naveed Jamali, a former double agent for the FBI who dealt with Russian espionage in the U.S., said this part of the effort won’t necessarily have to do with criminal charges or court proceedings.

“The goal with a counterintelligence operation is to detect and neutralize threats,” said Jamali, author of How to Catch a Russian Spy. “That’s it. If you apply that to the Mueller probe, anything that was used by the Russians against us during the election is a threat that has to be neutralized. That doesn’t mean that it has to be brought to court.”

Simply proving, beyond a shadow of a doubt, who interfered with the 2016 election on behalf of Russia and how they did it would be a significant success for the probe, he added.

“The legal part of this is so fucking boring,” he added. “This is a counterintelligence operation first and foremost.”

 __________________________________________

CNN: Probe Investigators Find Another Email From A Trump Top Aide About A Russia Meeting

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Rick Dearborn sent an email to campaign officials with information about a person trying to connect them with Putin, CNN said.

Thursday’s Morning Email: Government Shutdown Threat Looms Over Border Wall Faceoff

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Neither side looks ready to compromise.

Will Trump Be the Death of the Goldwater Rule?

Saved Stories – 1. FBI
Inside Robert Mueller’s Army – Daily Beast
Arkansas Democratic Party calls for resignation of state senator under FBI investigation – Times Record
7:54 AM 8/24/2017 Trump clashed with multiple GOP senators over Russia Politico
8:42 AM 8/24/2017 Selected Stories In Brief: US probe finds another email trying to connect Trump officials, Putin: CNN Reuters and other 25 stories
Clapper said, I cannot make any comment about his mental health, his sanity or any of that sort of thing. All that I can comment on really is the behavior Ive observed, and I find that worrisome. James Clapper: Concerned by Jekyll-Hyde Trump pattern CNN International
Will Trump Be the Death of the Goldwater Rule? The New Yorker | Hundreds of pages of new details on Trump-Russia dossier and Pee Pee Tape are on verge of being released Thursday August 24th, 2017 at 9:30 AM Palmer Report
No, Robert Mueller Is Not Radioactive – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Mueller Turns Up The Heat With Unusual Search Warrant In Russia Probe – NPR
Senate confirms Wray as FBI director – Washington Post
Ivanka to the rescue? Her interruptions have eased two recent interviews with President Trump. – Washington Post
James Comey has book deal; publication set for next spring – Washington Times
Justice Department to examine race-based admissions in universities – Los Angeles Times
James Comey is writing a book and we know he’s been keeping thorough notes – Washington Post
James Comey, Former F.B.I. Director, to Publish a Book Next Spring
The Police State Trump Is Building Is Far More Destructive to American Democracy Than Any Collusion with Russia – AlterNet
Statement by FBI Director Christopher Wray – Federal Bureau of Investigation (press release) (blog)
New FBI director tells agents: ‘You can count on me to stand with you’ – ABC News
Chris Wray sworn in as FBI director – CNN
New FBI Director FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation (press release) (blog)
Former FBI Director James Comey gets book deal; plans to tell ‘unheard anecdotes’ – WCVB Boston
FBI officials warned they might have to testify against Trump: report – The Hill
FBI arrested cyber expert who ended WannaCry attack: US Marshall Service – Reuters
FBI Arrested Cyber Expert Who Ended WannaCry Attack: US Marshall Service – New York Times
FBI arrests security expert who stopped WannaCry ransomware attack (Updated) – TNW
Becoming an Agent – Federal Bureau of Investigation (press release) (blog)
Saved Stories – None
Inside Robert Muellers Army | FBI News and Selected Articles in brief 11:18 AM 8/24/2017
An FBI agent says there are 4 types of people and you can’t earn someone’s trust without knowing theirs – Business Insider
FBI’s Manafort raid included a dozen agents, ‘designed to intimidate,’ source says – Fox News
7 times Trump tried to call off the dogs on Russia – Washington Post
FBI arrests Chinese national connected to malware used in OPM data breach – CNN
FBI: 12 People in DC Area Stole Thousands of Credit Card Numbers … – NBC4 Washington
The 20 Key Questions Mueller’s Russia Investigation of Trump Must … – Newsweek
Former FBI Director Comey Joins Howard University For Lecture Series – NPR
Trump, Russian Collusion and Mueller: What Does the Special Counsel Need to Prove? – Newsweek
James Comey will deliver Howard University’s opening convocation keynote address – Washington Post
Howard University Hires Former FBI Director James Comey – TIME
Trump obsessed with Russia probe, rage-dialing GOP over legislation to ban him from firing Mueller – Boing Boing
The generals have Trump surrounded – Washington Post
Mueller issues grand jury subpoenas related to Donald Trump Jr.’s 2016 meeting – Madison.com
Inside Robert Mueller’s Army – Daily Beast
Arkansas Democratic Party calls for resignation of state senator under FBI investigation – Times Record
7:54 AM 8/24/2017 Trump clashed with multiple GOP senators over Russia Politico
8:42 AM 8/24/2017 Selected Stories In Brief: US probe finds another email trying to connect Trump officials, Putin: CNN Reuters and other 25 stories
Clapper said, I cannot make any comment about his mental health, his sanity or any of that sort of thing. All that I can comment on really is the behavior Ive observed, and I find that worrisome. James Clapper: Concerned by Jekyll-Hyde Trump pattern CNN International
Will Trump Be the Death of the Goldwater Rule? The New Yorker | Hundreds of pages of new details on Trump-Russia dossier and Pee Pee Tape are on verge of being released Thursday August 24th, 2017 at 9:30 AM Palmer Report
No, Robert Mueller Is Not Radioactive – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
‘Consumed’ with Russia scandal, Trump keeps clashing with Republicans – MSNBC
CNN: Probe Investigators Find Another Email From A Trump Top Aide About A Russia Meeting
Russia probe: New email found from top Donald Trump aide trying to set up Putin meeting – The Independent
Today in Trumpworld August 24 – Politico
1. FBI from mikenova (10 sites)
mueller – Google News: No, Robert Mueller Is Not Radioactive – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
The World Web Times wwtimes.com: Will Trump Be the Death of the Goldwater Rule? The New Yorker | Hundreds of pages of new details on Trump-Russia dossier and Pee Pee Tape are on verge of being released Thursday August 24th, 2017 at 9:30 AM Palmer Report
The World Web Times wwtimes.com: Clapper said, I cannot make any comment about his mental health, his sanity or any of that sort of thing. All that I can comment on really is the behavior Ive observed, and I find that worrisome. James Clapper: Concerned by Jekyll-Hyde Trump pattern CNN International
The World Web Times wwtimes.com: 8:42 AM 8/24/2017 Selected Stories In Brief: US probe finds another email trying to connect Trump officials, Putin: CNN Reuters and other 25 stories
fbi – Google News: FBI says they raided a home in PG County, ‘active investigation’ underway – WJLA
The World Web Times wwtimes.com: 7:54 AM 8/24/2017 Trump clashed with multiple GOP senators over Russia Politico
fbi – Google News: FBI searching for man who tried to rob northeast Albuquerque bank – KRQE News 13
fbi – Google News: Arkansas Democratic Party calls for resignation of state senator under FBI investigation – Times Record
mueller – Google News: Inside Robert Mueller’s Army – Daily Beast
fbi – Google News: Vt. FBI chief to run state lottery – Rutland Herald
fbi – Google News: FBI investigating state senator over River Valley Sports Complex – Hot Springs Village Voice
fbi – Google News: FBI: Murder victim led local arm of global crime op – Youngstown Vindicator
fbi – Google News: FBI: Murder victim led local arm of global crime op – Youngstown Vindicator
The World Web Times wwtimes.com: As Syria war tightens, U.S. and Russia military hotlines humming
fbi – Google News: FBI to host agent recruitment event in San Antonio – WOAI
mueller – Google News: Mueller issues grand jury subpoenas related to Donald Trump Jr.’s 2016 meeting – Madison.com
fbi aclu report – Google News: Free Speech? What’s That? – Power Line (blog)
mueller – Google News: Mueller issues grand jury subpoenas related to Donald Trump Jr.’s 2016 meeting – Gwinnettdailypost.com
james b. comey – Google News: The generals have Trump surrounded – Washington Post
mueller – Google News: Trump obsessed with Russia probe, rage-dialing GOP over legislation to ban him from firing Mueller – Boing Boing
mueller – Google News: Protesters in Eden Prairie ask Paulsen to support Mueller’s Russian probe – SW News Media

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Mueller Uses Classic Prosecution Playbook Despite Trump Warnings

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The former FBI director leading the probe into the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia is taking a page from the playbook federal prosecutors have used for decades in criminal investigations, from white-collar fraud to mob racketeering:Follow the money.

Source: Mueller Uses Classic Prosecution Playbook Despite Trump Warnings

“The July raid on the home of Manafort, whose financial dealings and previous work for a Russian-backed party in Ukraine have come under scrutiny, was seen as an effort to get him to give up any damaging information he might have on Trump or others.

Manafort changed lawyers after the raid, announcing he would hire Miller & Chevalier, which specializes in international tax law and fraud. The move was made because Mueller’s investigation of Manafort appears to be moving beyond collusion with Russia to focus on potential tax violations, said a person familiar with the matter.

John Dowd, another Trump lawyer, called the raid a “gross abuse of the judicial process” for the sake of “shock value”

— another indication that the Trump team is chafing increasingly at Mueller’s hard-charging approach.”

Mueller Uses Classic Prosecution Playbook Despite Trump Warnings

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The former FBI director leading the probe into the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia is taking a page from the playbook federal prosecutors have used for decades in criminal investigations, from white-collar fraud to mob racketeering:

Follow the money. Start small and work up. See who will “flip” and testify against higher-ups by pursuing charges such as tax evasion, money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

Special counsel Robert Mueller — himself a veteran prosecutor — has assembled a team of 16 lawyers experienced in complex criminal cases for his investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s presidential campaign.

They even staged a dramatic early morning raid in late July on the home of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort — a classic shock-and-awe tactic reminiscent of raids the FBI used against four hedge funds in an insider-trading probe in 2010 and earlier against mobsters like John Gotti, head of the Gambino crime family in New York.

“You’re always looking for people on the inside to testify about what goes on,” said Jeffrey Cramer, a former prosecutor who’s now managing director of consulting firm Berkeley Research Group LLC. “You go for the weakest link, and you start building up.”

Trump’s Red Line

Mueller was given a broad mandate in May by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to investigate not only Russia’s interference and potential collusion with Trump’s presidential campaign but also “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”

Now, the expanding investigation risks a showdown with Trump, who has warned that looking into his family’s real estate deals would cross a red line.

While Trump’s legal team doesn’t anticipate that Mueller will violate his mandate, it’s prepared to take action if he does, Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s lawyers, said in an interview. Matters that would be out of bounds include looking at Trump’s taxes or real-estate transactions of the president or his family members, Sekulow said.

“If we felt there was an issue that developed that was outside the scope of legitimate inquiry we would, in normal course, file our objections with the special counsel,” Sekulow said. “If we weren’t satisfied with the resolution we would look at going through the appropriate channels at the Department of Justice.”

People ‘Speculating’

Sekulow also said it’s “fundamentally incorrect” to assume that Mueller is conducting a mob-style investigation when it comes to Trump and his family members, at least based on what he’s seen to date.

“People are speculating on things without a full grasp of the nature of what’s taking place,” he said.

Rosenstein said on “Fox News Sunday” this month that “we don’t engage in fishing expeditions” and Mueller needs to come to him for approval to investigate any potential crimes beyond his mandate. Mueller and Rosenstein declined to comment for this story, according to their aides.

Those who have worked with Mueller said he knows how to build a case piece-by-piece.

“Mueller is no dummy,” said William Mateja, a former federal prosecutor who investigated white-collar crime and served at the Justice Department when Mueller was director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “You use crimes like money laundering and tax evasion to get cooperation from people who might be in the know.”

Among the experienced prosecutors he’s recruited in that effort is Andrew Weissmann, who worked in the 1990s to dismantle crime families on racketeering charges. He squeezed lower-level mobsters to become cooperating witnesses, a tactic that eventually led to the conviction of Genovese crime boss Vincent “The Chin” Gigante for racketeering in 1997. Later, Weissmann led the Enron Task Force that investigated and prosecute cases involving the defunct Houston energy trader.

Greg Andres, another team member, is a former deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s criminal division who took down Bonanno family boss Joseph Massino. He also prosecuted former Credit Suisse Group AG broker Eric Butler for securities fraud. Butler was convicted in 2009.

To be sure, Mueller’s team is using 21st century technology to investigate last year’s hacking into Democratic Party computers and moves to “weaponize” social media to influence voters.

But it’s also using time-tested methods, casting a wide net to find out “who are the true power players” with knowledge of what was happening in Trump’s campaign and during his transition to the White House, said Ronald Hosko, former assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division.

“The core part of Robert Mueller’s mission is to understand whether people associated with the campaign were associated with Russians determined to influence the election results,” said Hosko, who’s now president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund.

Trump Buildings

The investigation is examining Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial New York hotel development with Russian associates and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, Bloomberg News reported last month. Sekulow said he hasn’t seen any evidence the investigation is looking into Trump’s real-estate transactions.

Trump associates who are central figures in Mueller’s investigation include Manafort, the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Michael Flynn, who was ousted as national security adviser, according to two U.S. officials with knowledge of the investigation. Mueller is now in talks with the White House to interview current and former administration officials, including recently departed White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, the New York Times reported.

“They’re looking at where are various people getting money from, and they’re going to try to figure out not only where did it come from, but who can they connect it to,” said Mateja, now a shareholder at the law firm of Polsinelli PC. “Can they connect it to Donald Trump?”

What’s not known publicly yet is whether any of those under investigation are cooperating to help Mueller build a case, Hosko said.

Pressure to Act

Mueller’s investigation is likely to continue through next year if not longer, increasing pressure on him to announce indictments against those who committed relatively small offenses and who aren’t needed to further the investigation, according to Hosko.

“The longer it drags out, the louder the complaints will get that there’s nothing that’s been proven,” he said.

The July raid on the home of Manafort, whose financial dealings and previous work for a Russian-backed party in Ukraine have come under scrutiny, was seen as an effort to get him to give up any damaging information he might have on Trump or others.

Manafort changed lawyers after the raid, announcing he would hire Miller & Chevalier, which specializes in international tax law and fraud. The move was made because Mueller’s investigation of Manafort appears to be moving beyond collusion with Russia to focus on potential tax violations, said a person familiar with the matter.

John Dowd, another Trump lawyer, called the raid a “gross abuse of the judicial process” for the sake of “shock value” — another indication that the Trump team is chafing increasingly at Mueller’s hard-charging approach.

© Copyright 2017 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

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The Art of the Steal: Trump Illegitimacy Is Glaring


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