WASHINGTON — The team of lawyers investigating potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign is still growing, but its early composition reveals a breadth of experience in criminal law and in following the money.
The team includes a former Fulbright Scholar in Russia, a criminal law expert who’s argued dozens of cases before the Supreme Court, a former FBI counterterrorism agent, a veteran prosecutor who took down mobsters and went after Enron executives, and a lawyer with experience in the Watergate case.
At the top is Robert Mueller, who spent 12 years as director of the FBI before retiring from the bureau in 2013. He left the WilmerHale law firm last month to serve as special counsel in charge of the investigation.
The group he’s already assembled — with experience in international organized crime and the fundamentals of criminal and national security law — suggests he’s prepared to dig deep in a wide-ranging and probably lengthy investigation.
A spokesman for Mueller has confirmed the names of seven of the staff lawyers, including one Orange County divorce attorney, on board so far; more are expected to be added.
A look at those seven:
ANDREW WEISSMANN: The veteran Justice Department prosecutor brings years of experience in complex financial fraud cases, corporate misconduct and organized crime.
He led the department’s task force that investigated and prosecuted Enron executives in the energy giant’s stunning collapse.
Before that, as a federal prosecutor in New York City, Weissmann prosecuted members of the Gambino, Colombo and Genovese families. Between 2011 and 2013, he was the FBI’s general counsel under Mueller and has spent the past several years as chief of the Justice Department’s criminal fraud section. That section’s cases have included large international bribery prosecutions and the criminal charges in January against German automaker Volkswagen in an emissions cheating scam.
MICHAEL DREEBEN: A criminal law scholar, the deputy solicitor general has argued more than 100 cases before the Supreme Court in his decades of practice. He’s represented the federal government’s position on a broad array of legal questions, including whether the police need warrants to access cellphones of the arrested; whether former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell crossed the line by performing favors on behalf of a wealthy benefactor who provided gifts to McDonnell and his wife; and whether seemingly threatening online posts could be treated as criminal acts.
AARON ZEBLEY: Zebley’s had a long bond with Mueller, serving as his chief of staff at the FBI and then working alongside him at WilmerHale. Zebley was an FBI special agent who worked counterterrorism investigator but also was a national security prosecutor with cases including Chinese espionage. He’s also worked as a senior counselor in the Justice Department’s national security division.
JAMES QUARLES: As a young lawyer, Quarles served as an assistant special prosecutor in the Watergate scandal involving President Richard Nixon. Quarles has worked since the mid-1970s at WilmerHale, where he’s been focused on litigation.
LISA PAGE: Page is a former trial attorney in what used to be known as the Justice Department’s organized crime and racketeering section. She prosecuted, among others, Bulgarian nationals in a money laundering scheme involving fraudulent eBay ads and an associate and member of the Lucchese organized crime family. Page also served in the FBI’s general counsel office.
JEANNIE RHEE: Another WilmerHale partner, Rhee focused in private practice on representing people in government investigations, including white-collar criminal probes and criminal and civil fraud matters. Before that, she served in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which provides advice to government agencies on questions including national security, executive privilege and constitutional matters. She served earlier in her career as an assistant United States attorney in the District of Columbia.
ELIZABETH PRELOGAR: This lawyer with experience in the solicitor general’s office and at the Hogan Lovells law firm is also a former Fulbright Scholar who studied in Russia.
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