Special counsel Robert Mueller has added 13 attorneys — with more still to come — as his investigation quickly expands beyond potential collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign with Russia to potential obstruction of justice case by the president.
Mueller spokesman Peter Carr confirmed in an email Friday the total number of staffers working on the Russia probe, while adding “several more in the pipeline.”
Carr didn’t disclose the names of any of Mueller staffers beyond the ones who had previously been reported were on the Russia investigation squad — a prosecution team with experience going after everything from the Mafia and Enron to al Qaeda and President Richard Nixon.
The special counsel’s team, Carr for the first time confirmed, includes Aaron Zebley, Mueller’s former FBI chief of staff; James Quarles, a former Watergate assistant special prosecutor; Michael Dreeben, the deputy solicitor general; Andrew Weissmann, the chief of the Justice Department’s criminal division fraud section; Jeannie Rhee, a former deputy assistant attorney general from DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel; and Lisa Page, from the FBI’s general counsel office.
Justice Department veterans say they’re not surprised that Mueller’s team is growing given the vast array of witness interviews that will need to be conducted to the financial documents and other records that Trump officials are expected to produce.
“Think of the sprawling nature of everything they have to investigate,” said Brian Fallon, a former Obama Justice Department and Hillary Clinton campaign spokesman. “It was going to be a herculean task just to investigate the Russian hack and any potential collusion. Now you have obstruction of justice.”
Mueller was widely praised for his integrity with his appointment last month to lead the Russia probe, though that has changed in recent days. Trump has picked up where a number of his surrogates including Newt Gingrich have gone, by lashing out at the Mueller probe and questioning its integrity.
Gingrich on Wednesday questioned Mueller’s hiring a number of individuals who had contributed to Democratic candidates and also raised questions about Mueller’s friendship with James Comey, who Trump fired from the FBI and is now a witness in the investigation. The president on Thursday tweeted that the Russia probe was being “led by some very bad and conflicted people!”