Robert Mueller has made no public comment since he was named to lead the Department of Justice investigation into Russian interference in last year’s election.
Instead, he has let his actions do the talking. The former FBI director and decorated U.S. Marine has submitted a budget and quietly hired an all-star team that includes 15 Justice Department prosecutors. And, a spokesman for Mueller said, he’s not done bringing on new lawyers.
That has gotten the attention of supporters of President Trump, who recently made an attack ad calling the investigation a “rigged game” and blasting the special counsel for hiring at least four lawyers who have donated to Democrats.
But don’t expect Mueller to mount a defense. He does his talking in the courtroom, not on social media. In fact, Mueller recently got a nod of support from Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who said he didn’t think political donations amounted to a conflict of interest.
Mueller has not described the scope of what his team will examine.
But members of Congress and other lawyers involved in the probe described the main lines of inquiry as: Russian meddling in the presidential election; whether anyone inside the United States conspired to help; and whether any wrongdoing has been committed in the surprise firing of FBI Director James Comey, who said he believed he was let go to relieve pressure on the Russia probe.
There’s no timetable or deadline for the job. Given that it’s the most sensitive Justice Department investigation in the last decade or more, it’s unlikely that prosecutors will rush.
And for someone like Mueller, the 2018 midterm elections are not going to be a factor.
Here are some of the attorneys Mueller has hired:
- Zainab Ahmad, a top national security prosecutor on detail from U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York.
- Rush Atkinson, an attorney on detail from the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section at the Department of Justice.
- Michael Dreeben, an appellate attorney on detail from the Office of the Solicitor General, described by former colleagues as one of the brightest criminal law experts of the past two generations.
- Andrew Goldstein, a public corruption prosecutor on detail from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York.
- Adam Jed, an appellate attorney on detail from DOJ’s Civil Division.
- Lisa Page, an attorney on detail from the FBI’s Office of the General Counsel and a former trial attorney with the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section.
- Elizabeth Prelogar, an appellate attorney on detail from the Office of the Solicitor General.
- James Quarles, a former partner at WilmerHale and a former assistant special prosecutor for the Watergate Special Prosecution Force.
- Jeannie Rhee, a former partner at WilmerHale who has served in the Office of Legal Counsel at DOJ and as an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.
- Brandon Van Grack, an attorney on detail from the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
- Andrew Weissmann, who is on detail from the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and who has served as general counsel at the FBI and as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
- Aaron Zebley, a former partner at WilmerHale who has previously served with Mueller at the FBI and has served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia.
- Aaron Zelinsky, an attorney on detail from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Maryland.