Lead prosecutor in Manafort case leaving Mueller's team -- signaling possible end to Russia probe
Special counsel Robert Mueller on CNN (screen capture)

One of Robert Mueller's "killers" is leaving the team now that Paul Manafort has been sentenced, sending a strong signal the special counsel probe may be nearing an end.


Andrew Weissmann, who built the case against President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, is stepping down from the Mueller probe to teach at New York University and resume his civil rights activism, reported NPR.

Two sources close to the situation said Weissman, who Trump's defenders have attacked since he joined Mueller, plans to continue his working on preventing wrongful convictions by improving forensic science standards used in courts.

Trump allies have accused Weissman of political bias because he attended Hillary Clinton's election night party in 2016 and wrote a supportive email to former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates after she refused to defend the Trump administration's first Muslim travel ban.

Manafort has been sentenced to about 7 1/2 years in federal prison after he was convicted in two cases that came out of the Mueller investigation, and shortly after he learned his fate the Manhattan district attorney indicted him on 16 pardon-proof counts related to real estate fraud.

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who joined the Trump campaign after Manafort left, described Weissman and other Mueller prosecutors as "killers," according to author Michael Wolff.

Bannon singled out Weissmann as "the LeBron James of money laundering investigations."

Another high-profile investigator, FBI special agent in charge David Archey, left the Mueller team and started a new job March 4 leading the bureau's office in Richmond, Va.

Special counsel prosecutor Brandon Van Grack left the team earlier this month to head a Justice Department effort to enforce the Foreign Agents Registration Act -- which Manafort, former Trump campaign deputy chairman Rick Gates and former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn have all been accused of violating.

Law firm WilmerHale, which Mueller and several other prosecutors left to set up the special counsel team, is preparing for some of those former partners to return, according to three lawyers who spoke to NPR.