Meet the all-star team of lawyers Robert Mueller has assembled for the Trump-Russia investigation

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller

As the investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia gains traction, special counsel Robert Mueller has begun quietly assembling a formidable team of top lawyers and investigators.

Mueller has so far hired 12 people and intends to bring on more, his spokesman Peter Carr told The New York Times.

Only a handful have been named publicly so far, but legal experts and fellow lawyers who have spoken to media in recent days lauded the new hires as a powerhouse team of experienced professionals with sterling credentials who rank among the best in their field.

“That is a great, great team of complete professionals,” Kenneth Starr, the former independent counsel who investigated President Bill Clinton, told ABC News.

The members of Mueller’s team who’ve been named have a cumulative 37 years of experience at the FBI and 85 years at the Department of Justice, The Washington Post reported on Friday.

Yet despite the lawyers’ resumes and reputations, several members of the team have come under fire for their previous donations to Democrats, prompting some critics to cry foul on the investigation and urge Trump to fire Mueller.

Trump himself has even weighed in:

“You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history — led by some very bad and conflicted people!” Trump said Thursday on Twitter.

Here are some of Mueller’s new hires:

SEE ALSO: There’s a theme emerging in Mueller’s Russia probe that could prove damning for Trump

Michael Dreeben

Dreeben, the deputy solicitor general overseeing the Department of Justice’s criminal docket, is widely regarded as one of the top criminal law experts in the federal government. He will work for Mueller on the investigation part-time as he juggles the DOJ’s criminal appellate cases.

Dreeben is best known for having argued more than 100 cases before the Supreme Court — a feat that fewer than 10 other attorneys have accomplished in the court’s history. Peers say his hiring reveals how seriously Mueller is taking the investigation, and how wide-ranging it ultimately could be.

“That Mueller has sought his assistance attests both to the seriousness of his effort and the depth of the intellectual bench he is building,” Paul Rosenzweig, a former Homeland Security official and Whitewater investigator, wrote on the Lawfare blog.

Preet Bharara, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York who was recently fired by Trump, called Dreeben one of the DOJ’s top legal and appellate minds in modern times:

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More importantly, Michael Dreeben is careful, meticulous, non-partisan, and fair-minded. His loyalty is to the Constitution alone. https://t.co/9a7jwHVH1K

Beyond possessing an “encyclopedic” knowledge of criminal law, lawyers who have worked with Dreeben say he also has a gift for anticipating questions his arguments will likely prompt, allowing him to prepare answers accordingly.

“He answers [questions] directly. He answers them completely. And he answers them exquisitely attuned to the concerns that motivated them,” Kannon Shanmugam, a partner at the law firm Williams & Connolly who worked with Dreeben at the solicitor general’s office, told the Law360 last year.

Andrew Weissmann

Weissmann joined Mueller’s team after taking a leave of absence from his current job leading the DOJ’s criminal fraud unit. He formerly served as general counsel to the FBI under Mueller’s leadership.

Weissman also headed up the Enron Task Force between 2002 and 2005, for which he oversaw the prosecutions of 34 people connected to the collapsed energy company, including chairman Kenneth Lay and CEO Jeffrey Skilling.

He spent 15 years as a federal prosecutor in the eastern district of New York, where he specialized in prosecuting mafia members and bosses from the Colombo, Gambino, and Genovese families.

“As a fraud and foreign bribery expert, he knows how to follow the money. Who knows what they will find, but if there is something to be found, he will find it,” Emily Pierce, a former DOJ spokeswoman under the Obama administration, told Politico.

Weissman is one of several attorneys in Mueller’s team that has donated to Democrats, although he does not appear to have donated in the 2016 election. He gave $2,300 to President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, and $2,000 to the Democratic National Committee in 2006, according to CNN’s review of FEC records.

Jeannie Rhee

Rhee is one of several attorneys to resign from the WilmerHale law firm to join Mueller’s investigation.

She also has two years of DOJ experience, serving as deputy assistant attorney general under former Attorney General Eric Holder. She advised Holder and Obama administration officials on criminal law issues, as well as criminal procedure and executive issues, according to her biography on WilmerHale’s website.

As many critics of Mueller’s investigation have pointed out, Rhee represented Hillary Clinton in a 2015 lawsuit that sought access to her private emails. She also represented the Clinton Foundation in a 2015 racketeering lawsuit.

Rhee is also one of the members of Mueller’s team under scrutiny for her political donations, and has doled out more than $16,000 to Democrats since 2008, CNN reported. She maxed out her donations both in 2015 and 2016 to Clinton’s presidential campaign, giving a total of $5,400.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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'Criminal Minds' Season 13 Cast News, Air Date: Kirsten Vangsness and AJ Cook Secure Raises to Return – Christian Post

Fans will be happy to know that two female fan-favorites will be staying on for season 13 of “Criminal Minds” as Kirsten Vangsness and A.J. Cook have signed new contracts.

Facebook/CriminalMinds‘Criminal Minds’ season 13 premieres in September.

According to an exclusive report from Deadline, Vangsness and Cook have landed significant raises in order to return for the upcoming season. The publication revealed that both actresses were earning less than their male co-star Matthew Gray Gubler, and the negotiation apparently resulted in equal pay with the actor.

Vangsness and Cook previously campaigned for higher salaries in 2013, though they failed to attain parity then. This time around, though, the actresses were reportedly prepared to leave the show should their conditions not be met. Both stars have been with “Criminal Minds” since its first season.

However, fans will have to say goodbye to Damon Gupton after just one season. Gupton was brought in to play Special Agent Stephen Walker after Thomas Gibson was fired. Gibson played Senior Supervisory Special Agent Aaron Hotchner from season 1 to 12, but was let go from the show following an incident involving a producer. According to Variety, Gupton’s departure was a result of “creative changes in the show.” Season 12 closed with many characters’ fates hanging in the balance.

Fans can still look forward to seeing plenty of familiar faces returning in the new season, though. Apart from Vangsness and Cook, Gubler and Joe Mantegna are also reprising their roles as Dr. Spencer Reid and Senior Supervisory Special Agent David Rossi, respectively.

Paget Brewster, who was a series regular from season 2 to 7 and made a few guest appearances thereafter, will likewise be returning. She recently reprised her role in season 12 as a series regular.

Aisha Tyler, who was upped to series regular status in the previous season, will also be reprising her role. Finally, newcomer Adam Rodriguez will be coming back.

“Criminal Minds” season 13 will premiere in Sept. 27.

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Trump 'Is Not Under Investigation,' His Lawyer Insists – New York Times

WASHINGTON — A member of President Trump’s legal team said on Sunday that the president was not under investigation by the special counsel looking into Russia’s election-year meddling, contradicting Mr. Trump’s assertion in a Friday morning tweet that he is a subject of the widening inquiry.

The denial on Sunday by Jay Sekulow, one of several personal lawyers Mr. Trump has hired to represent him in the Russia case, is the latest of many examples in which the president’s aides and lawyers have scrambled to avert a public-relations mess created by Mr. Trump’s tweets, off-script remarks or leaked private conversations.

Advisers have been forced to perform postpresidential cleanup in the wake of Mr. Trump’s tweet claiming he had been wiretapped by the Obama administration, his Oval Office comments to Russian diplomats about the former F.B.I. director, his private musings about the possibility of firing the Russia special counsel, his suggestion that there might be recordings of White House conversations, and his comments about a “military” deportation operation.

The Run-Up

The podcast that makes sense of the most delirious stretch of the 2016 campaign.

In Mr. Sekulow’s case, his appearance on multiple Sunday morning talk shows took on the added urgency of trying to protect his client from admitting that he is in legal jeopardy during a criminal investigation, one that appears to be increasingly focused on whether Mr. Trump took steps to interfere with the normal progress of the federal inquiry.

Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, last month named Robert B. Mueller, a former F.B.I. director, as a special counsel to lead the sprawling investigation into the extent of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and whether any of Mr. Trump’s associates colluded in that effort.

In addition, two congressional committees have issued subpoenas for testimony and documents as part of their wide-ranging, bipartisan investigations. All three inquiries are reportedly examining whether Mr. Trump, as president, sought to impede the progress of the inquiries.

Mr. Sekulow repeatedly and forcefully denied that on Sunday, saying on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program that “the president has not been and is not under investigation,” and insisting that the administration had received no information from the special counsel’s office to think otherwise.

On CNN’s “State of the Union” program, he said flatly, “The president is not a subject or target of an investigation.”

On Friday, the president wrote the opposite on Twitter, saying: “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt.”

Mr. Sekulow said that the message was merely a response by the president to a Washington Post article citing five unnamed sources who said Mr. Trump was under investigation in the Russia case. Mr. Sekulow said that Mr. Trump would have challenged the basic assertion of the article, but was constrained by Twitter’s limit of 140 characters per post.

“There’s a limitation on Twitter, as we all know,” Mr. Sekulow said on CNN. “And the president has a very effective utilization of social media.”

Mr. Sekulow did acknowledge on “Fox News Sunday” that he “can’t read people’s minds,” but said there had been “no notification of an investigation” of the president by Mr. Mueller.

“I can’t imagine a scenario where the president would not be aware of it,” Mr. Sekulow said on CBS.

Evidence that Mr. Mueller is in fact looking at Mr. Trump’s actions grew last week when Mr. Mueller requested interviews with three high-ranking current or former intelligence officials, according to a person briefed on the investigation. Reports have raised questions about whether Mr. Trump requested their help in trying to get James B. Comey, then the F.B.I. director, to end an investigation into the president’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn.

Veteran lawyers who have represented presidents during high-stakes legal cases said Mr. Trump’s repeated comments about the Russia investigation were extremely unusual. They said previous presidents would make sure to have the White House counsel’s office and their personal lawyers carefully review any comments about such an investigation before making them.

They said Mr. Sekulow’s denials on Sunday were not so much a legal argument as an effort to repair the political damage from the apparent admission by Mr. Trump on Twitter.

“With all due respect to Mr. Sekulow, what he says about what Mr. Mueller is or isn’t doing will make no difference,” said Gregory B. Craig, who led the legal team defending President Bill Clinton against impeachment charges. “If Mueller thinks there is evidence that obstruction occurred, Mueller’s job is to investigate.”

Several lawyers who requested anonymity because they did not want to publicly comment on the president’s legal situation dismissed Mr. Sekulow’s comments about the president’s not having been notified that he is a target of the investigation. One noted that very few criminal investigations begin with an identified target. Rather, targets are notified much later, after evidence in the case is developed.

On Capitol Hill, members of both parties expressed exasperation with Mr. Trump’s continuing public commentary about the Russia investigation. Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, pleaded on Sunday for the president to give Mr. Mueller the room he needs to manage the inquiry.

“If I were the president, I would be welcoming this investigation,” Mr. Rubio said on CBS. “I would ask that it be thorough and completed expeditiously, and be very cooperative with it.”

Mr. Rubio added, “The best thing that can happen for the president and for America is that we have a full-scale investigation that is credible.”

Representative Adam Schiff, Democrat of California, accused Mr. Trump and his allies of seeking to undermine Mr. Mueller’s investigation, setting a pretext for potentially firing those leading it. Mr. Trump has reportedly told friends that he considered firing Mr. Mueller, and the president’s tweet on Friday appeared aimed at Mr. Rosenstein, raising questions about whether the president might fire him, too.

“What’s happening here is the president wants to take down Bob Mueller. His lawyer wants to take down Bob Mueller,” Mr. Schiff said on ABC’s “This Week” program. “They want to lay the foundation to discredit whatever Bob Mueller comes up with. They’re essentially engaging in a scorched-earth litigation strategy that is beginning with trying to discredit the prosecutor.”

During his five months as president, Mr. Trump has repeatedly made comments that administration officials later sought to correct or explain.

After Mr. Trump repeatedly called for a “Muslim ban” during the presidential campaign, White House aides and lawyers said the travel ban he imposed shortly after taking office was not aimed at any religious group. Federal judges, however, said they had looked to the president’s own statements as they assessed the constitutionality of the effort to impose a travel ban, a case that has reached the Supreme Court.

Just weeks after taking office, Mr. Trump told reporters that new immigration policies were getting rid of “really bad dudes” and added, “It’s a military operation.” John Kelly, the secretary of homeland security, quickly corrected: “No — repeat — no use of military force in immigration operations. None.”

On a Saturday morning in early March, the Mr. Trump accused former President Barack Obama of wiretapping, a charge that aides repeatedly struggled to explain. “I’m just going to let the tweet speak for itself,” Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said at the time. “I think the president speaks very candidly.”

In May, word leaked out that Mr. Trump had told Russian diplomats in the Oval Office that Mr. Comey was a “nut job,” and that his firing had relieved “great pressure” on the president. Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, his national security adviser, later went on television to say that “the gist of the conversation was that the president feels as if he is hamstrung in his ability to work with Russia to find areas of cooperation because this has been obviously so much in the news.”

And after a longtime friend of Mr. Trump said this month that the president was considering whether to fire Mr. Mueller, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a spokeswoman, clarified his remarks during a gaggle with reporters on Air Force One.

“While the president has the right to, he has no intention to do so,” she said.

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Sheriff David Clarke has reportedly withdrawn his acceptance of a Homeland Security job

David Clarke

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke will not join the Department of Homeland Security as an assistant secretary, his adviser Craig Peterson told The Washington Post on Saturday.

“Late Friday, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr. formally notified Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly that he had rescinded his acceptance of the agency’s offer to join DHS as an assistant secretary,” Peterson said.

“Sheriff Clarke is 100 percent committed to the success of President Trump and believes his skills could be better utilized to promote the president’s agenda in a more aggressive role.”

Clarke previously said he would start the DHS job in June.

The news comes just weeks after Clarke was embroiled in a plagiarism controversy, after CNN’s KFile reported that he had failed to properly cite sources in at least 47 parts of his master’s thesis.

Clarke has also faced longtime criticism over the conditions at the Milwaukee County Jail, which he oversees. Since April 2016, one newborn baby and three inmates have died at the jail, and prosecutors have alleged that one of the deaths was caused by dehydration after jail staff cut off water access to his cell.

Clarke’s job offer at the DHS was never publicly announced by the Trump administration, but Clarke had announced on a Wisconsin radio station in May that he accepted the post. He told WISN host Vicki McKenna he would work as a “liaison with the state, local, and tribal law enforcement” in the Office of Partnership and Engagement.

Soon after Clarke’s announcement, dozens of Democratic lawmakers urged Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to reject the appointment, citing concerns over the Milwaukee County Jail deaths as well as Clark’s previous criticisms of the Black Lives Matter movement, which he has called a “hateful ideology.”

Clarke, who has been a prominent Trump surrogate since the early days of his presidential campaign, met with President Trump in Wisconsin on Tuesday to discuss other potential roles he could fill, the Post reported.

“The sheriff is reviewing options inside and outside the government,” Peterson said.

“Sheriff Clarke told Secretary Kelly he is very appreciative of the tremendous opportunity the secretary was offering, and expressed his support for the secretary and the agency.”

SEE ALSO: Sheriff David Clarke reportedly plagiarized parts of his master’s thesis

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NOW WATCH: Melania Trump swats Donald Trump’s hand away as he attempts to hold it multiple times on his trip abroad

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'Criminal Minds': Kirsten Vangsness & A.J. Cook Close Deals To … – Deadline

EXCLUSIVE:Criminal Minds two original female cast members are staying on. Kirsten Vangsness and A.J. Cook have closed new deals to continue on the long-running CBS drama series, which is headed into its 13th season. They join fellow Criminal Minds veterans Joe Mantegna and Matthew Gray Gubler who signed new contracts last month.

A.J. Cook (Jennifer "JJ" Jareau), Aisha Tyler (Dr. Tara Lewis), Kirsten Vangsness (Penelope Garcia)

Vangsness and Cook, who were negotiating together, had been seeking parity with fellow original cast member Gubler. I hear the two actresses have landed raises that put them essentially on par with him.

The studios behind Criminal Minds, ABC Studios and CBS TV Studios, did not begin talks with Vangsness and Cook until after completing deals with Mantegna and Gubler. I hear Vangsness and Cook, who play fan-favorites Penelope and J.J. on the show, respectively, took a similar stand during the 2013 negotiations as the two had consistently been paid less than half of what their male counterparts, Gubler and Shemar Moore, were making at the time. Back then, Vangsness and Cook eventually reached new agreements, securing salary increases but not able to achieve parity. I hear this time they were willing to walk for the cause.

CBS and the Criminal Minds producers had been taken to task on the treatment of female cast members in 2010 when they opted not to bring back Cook for Season 6 and to reduce the episodes of Brewster, leaving Vangsness as the only remaining full-time female cast member. The move led to an outcry from fans. Cook and Brewster subsequently were reinstated.

Both Vangsness and Cook have been on Criminal Minds since the beginning. Vangsness started as a recurring in Season 1, quickly getting promoted to a regular. She also co-starred on the 2011 spinoff Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior. Cook has been a series regular for the entire run except for Season 6, when she guest starred.

In addition to Vangsness, Cook, Mantegna and Gubler, set to return next season are recent Criminal Minds cast additions Adam Rodriguez,  and Aisha Tyler along with Paget Brewster, who rejoined the crime drama this season after a four-year break. Damon Gupton is departing after one season.

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Trump hires another attorney weeks after his lawyer sent out typo … – Raw Story

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Raw Story

Trump hires another attorney weeks after his lawyer sent out typo …
Raw Story
President Donald Trump has hired another attorney just a few weeks after his existing attorney, Marc Kasowitz, sent out a press release riddled with typos.
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Trump adds Washington lawyer John Dowd to his legal teamReuters
Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, hires his own lawyer in Russia probeWashington Post
TPM
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