The Trump team is reportedly worried about special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s appointment of a veteran federal prosecutor known for convincing witnesses to turn on their associates.
Andrew Weissmann, who led the U.S. Justice Department’s criminal fraud section before joining Mueller’s probe of alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, is best known for prosecuting the energy company Enron and organized crime cases in Brooklyn — which drew the attention of the newspaper owned by Jared Kushner, reported Axios.
The website reported that Trump’s associates have been worried about Weissmann since they first heard that Mueller had added him to the special counsel staff.
“I started getting phone calls from Trump associates about two weeks ago suggesting I look into his background,” wrote Jonathan Swan for Axios.
Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway tweeted out a CNN story, shortly after that conversation, showing that Weissman had donated $2,300 to Obama’s first presidential campaign and $2,000 to the Democratic National Committee in 2006, according to Swan.
Another source expressed concern that Weissman held a grudge against Kushner, whose newspaper published a harshly critical column about him by former federal prosecutor Sidney Powell.
“He is a very troubling guy,” the anonymous source told Axios. “The New York Observer went after Weissmann … As you may remember that is a paper that Jared owned … so is Weissmann going to have it out for this guy [Jared] and is this payback?”
Powell — the author of Licensed to Lie, an attack on the Justice Department under former President Barack Obama — accused Weissman of misconduct in the Enron and organized crime cases and called him a “stunningly bad choice” to lead the criminal fraud section.
She pointed out that some of the Enron convictions, which were gained with the help of witnesses “flipped” by Weissman, were overturned — but Sam Buell, who helped prosecute the Enron case, told Reuters such criticisms were routine in high-stakes investigations.
The president and Vice President Mike Pence, along with Kushner — Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser — have all hired their own lawyers to represent them in the Mueller investigation.
Axios, in a postscript, pointed out that “none of these concerns (about Weissman’s involvement) have been voiced to me by Jared Kushner or anyone who works for him.”