Special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly bringing in career prosecutors from the Justice Department to assist with his Russia probe.
According to Bloomberg, Mueller is making more use of U.S. attorneys from local offices and from DOJ headquarters in Washington, as well as tapping FBI agents to help with his investigation.
“Mueller and his team of 17 federal prosecutors are coping with a higher-than-expected volume of court challenges that has added complexity in recent months, but there’s no political appetite at this time to increase the size of his staff,” according to several current and former U.S. officials, Bloomberg reported.
From May 2017, when Mueller’s probe began, until March of this year, more money was spent within permanent DOJ units ($9 million) than by the special counsel’s team specifically ($7.7 million).
Mueller handed off the investigation into Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen to U.S. attorneys in the Southern District of New York in April.
Areas of inquiry against Cohen are believed to center on alleged campaign finance law violations during the 2016 presidential race, USA Today reported.
Mueller’s team has secured five guilty pleas to date, all for lying to federal investigators and other crimes, but the special counsel so far has not released any evidence of collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign, according to Fox News.
The pleas have come from former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn; campaign adviser George Papadopoulos; Rick Gates, a business associate to Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort; Dutch attorney Alex van der Zwaag, who pleaded guilty and served 30 days in prison for lying about interactions he had with Gates; and Richard Pinedo, who pleaded guilty in February to setting up bank accounts for Russians using false identities.
The Mueller team has aggressively targeted Manafort.
Last month, federal prosecutors succeeded in getting Manafort thrown in jail to await a September trial date in federal district court in Washington D.C. on charges ranging from alleged witness tampering to not being registered to lobby on behalf of foreign governments in the U.S.
Manafort not only faces charges in D.C., but also in the Eastern District Court of Virginia.
The judge in that case, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, upbraided Mueller’s prosecutors in May, suggesting they lied to the court about the scope of the Russia investigation, as well as the true purpose of the case, which the judge argued is to bring down President Donald Trump.
“You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort,” Ellis said. “You really care about what information Mr. Manafort can give you to lead you to Mr. Trump and an impeachment, or whatever.”
The judge stated the 18-count indictment in the case, stemming from alleged both bank fraud and tax offenses against Manafort dating back to 2005 and 2007, seems to have nothing to do with the Russia collusion investigation.
He further questioned why the charges were not handed over to career federal prosecutors, as was the case with Cohen.
Clearly, Ellis contended, the prosecution by Mueller’s team is meant to assert leverage over Manafort in order to get him to “sing.”
On multiple occasions, the president has questioned the impartiality of Mueller’s prosecutors. He has highlighted that many have contributed to Democrat candidates in the past, and one — prosecutor Andrew Weissmann — attended Hillary Clinton’s election night party in November 2016, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Why aren’t the 13 Angry and heavily conflicted Democrats investigating the totally Crooked Campaign of totally Crooked Hillary Clinton. It’s a Rigged Witch Hunt, that’s why! Ask them if they enjoyed her after election celebration!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2018
Politifact confirmed in March that at least 13 of the 17 lawyers on Mueller’s team are Democrats, six of whom contributed to Clinton.
Of the four remaining attorneys, the fact checker could not determine their party affiliation. However, Politifact noted that Mueller himself is a registered Republican, but the only known one on the team.
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