The Un-Trump-Ables: Here’s the Team Investigating Russia and Trump
With the Trump-Russia probe gearing up in full speed, it might behoove you to get familiar with the investigative team that Robert Mueller has assembled. The team reads like the “who’s who” of the legal system and brandishes an almost super-hero level caliber of people. This is becoming one of the largest investigations in U.S. history, so follow through and look at the amazing cast of players that may be taking down the Trump administration.
1. Andrew Weissmann
Weissmann is no stranger to danger. He served 15 years as a federal prosecutor in New York. During that time he specialized in going after mafiosos like the Gambino, Genovese, and Colombo families. He also served as the leader for the Enron task force for which he oversaw the prosecution of 34 people.
Next: You’ll need a little foreign bribery experience.
2. Greg Andres
Greg Andres has his own history in prosecuting mob families. He was a prosecutor out of Brooklyn and went after The Bonnano family. It was later discovered that the family actually had a hit out on Andres while he was prosecuting the family. Andres also served in the DOJ as Deputy Assistant Attorney General. He also worked in the private sector more recently at Davis Polk & Wardwell where he was a defense attorney for white-collar criminals.
Next: The one who took down the wolf.
3. Kyle Freeny
Freeny was most recently involved in the prosecution of Riza Aziz for financing the film The Wolf Of Wall Street with stolen assets from the Malaysian government. She ended up leaving that case back in June, however, presumably to join Mueller’s team. Freeny, Andres, and Weisman are heading up the prosecution of Manafort and Gates, and also garnered a guilty plea from Papadopoulos.
Next: She served under Eric Holder.
4. Jeanie Rhee
Rhee is an Obama era DOJ deputy assistant attorney general where she served for 2 years under Eric Holder. She also worked with Mueller at the Wilmer Hale law firm. According to Politico, Rhee is at the center of the Flynn investigation. Her critics will likely attack her for her ties to both the Obama administration and defending Hillary Clinton in multiple lawsuits.
Next: She stares down terrorists.
5. Zainab Ahmad
Ahmad is a badass counter-terrorism prosecutor for the U.S. attorneys office. She has successfully prosecuted nine terrorists during her tenure in her role. She’s never lost a case against any of her terrorist foes. Ahmad’s former supervisor told The New Yorker that Ahmad probably spent more time talking with “legitimate Al Qaeda members, hardened terrorist killers,” than any other prosecutor in America.
Next: Meet Rosenstein’s guy.
6. Aaron Zelinsky
Zelinsky was a clerk for justices, John Paul Stevens, and Anthony Kennedy, as well as Judge Thomas Griffith. He had a three-year stint at the U.S. attorneys office under Rod Rosenstein. Rosenstein is the deputy attorney general who has authority over the Trump-Russia investigation. He has also worked in the State Department under the Obama administration and handled hostage negotiations while he was there.
Next: He specialized in prosecuting espionage.
7. Brandon Van Grack
Van Grack is your “G-man” with a personality to boot. A former colleague and executive director of Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy told the Daily Beast, “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.” Van Grack worked in the U.S. attorney’s office where he specialized in prosecuting espionage, national security, and international crime cases.
Next: Meet Mueller’s right-hand man.
8. Aaron Zebley
Aaron Zebley has years of experience with the FBI’s counterterrorism unit. He was investigating groups like Al-Queda before 9/11 occurred. In addition, he also served in the U.S Attorney’s office in the national security and terrorism unit. Wired magazine called Zebley “a dogged FBI agent turned lawyer turned confidant,” and characterized him as “Mueller’s right-hand man.”
Next: Don’t quarrel with this man.
9. James Quarles
This is the man with on-the-job experience; he was one of the special prosecutors on the Watergate case early in his career. In the Russi-Trump probe, he is acting as the White House liaison and has been communicating with the Trump administration more and more frequently. He is also another luminaire from the WilmerHale firm where Mueller left to pursue this investigation.
Next: Meet Mr. 100!
10. Michael Dreeben
Dreeben is considered the government’s top criminal law expert. He is most widely known for the fact that he has argued over 100 cases in front of the supreme court; a feat that has only been accomplished by 10 other lawyers. He is only working part-time on the Russia-Trump probe as he still is the deputy solicitor general for the Department of Justice and has to fulfill those duties as well. Paul Rosenzweig wrote on the Lawfare blog, “That Mueller has sought his assistance attests both to the seriousness of his effort and the depth of the intellectual bench he is building,”
Next: Special agent No. 1.
11. Robert Gibbs
Robert Gibbs’ wheelhouse is in espionage. He has worked for the FBI since 2003 and is an expert in his field. In an affidavit filed for the Papadopoulos case, Gibbs states that he has “conducted numerous investigations into complex domestic and extraterritorial crimes, including crimes related to espionage and foreign influence.” He was more famously involved with an investigation of a mid-level Pentagon employee who was passing confidential information to Chinese agents.
Next: Special agent No. 2.
12. Walter Giardina
Giardina is a recent addition to the team and is an FBI investigator. Not much is known about him at this point other than that he is focused on the Flynn investigation in the Russia-Trump probe, according to Politico.
Next: Special agent No. 3.
13. William Barnett
As with Giardina, Barnett is a recent addition from the FBI and will be working alongside Giardina as the Russia-Trump probe moves towards Flynn. Barnett is just as much of an enigma as Giardina. There isn’t much that is immediately available.
Next: His whole job is public corruption.
14. Andrew Goldstein
Goldstein is almost a shoe-in for this investigation. Before joining the Mueller team, he led the public corruption unit for the U.S. attorneys office in New York. Most famously he is credited with taking down Sheldon Silver while working under Preet Bharara. Sheldon Silver was a New York State Assembly speaker who used his position to garner favor for a cancer researcher and 2 real estate developers. Before Goldstein came along, Silver was akin to Teflon when it came to questions of corruption.
Next: Better brush up on your Russian for the case.
15. Elizabeth Prelogar
If you’re investigating Russia, you have to have someone fluent in Russian and has the legal chops to boot. Prelogar was a Fulbright scholar while in Russia and has clerked under Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan. She is also on loan for the investigation from the solicitor general’s office.
Next: The outlier
16. Adam Jed
Jed is a bit of an outlier on Mueller’s team. He has never been a prosecutor. Instead, he is a Harvard Law graduate who works for the DOJ as an appellate lawyer for the civil division.
Next: To cap it all off … *cue drum roll*
17. Rush Atkinson
Atkinson is on loan from the DOJ’s fraud division and like Van Grack, he also specializes in espionage. While at the DOJ in the fraud section of the DOJ’s criminal division, he worked under Weissmann.
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