As the Trump inner circle lawyers up and seeks advice from criminal lawyers, special counsel Robert Mueller has added a prosecutor to the Trump campaign probe who specializes in witness flipping.
Karen Freifeld of Reuters on Monday, “A veteran federal prosecutor recruited onto special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is known for a skill that may come in handy in the investigation of potential ties between Russia and U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign team: persuading witnesses to turn on friends, colleagues and superiors.”
Andrew Weissmann’s addition was noted in early June, but Reuters pointed out that he specializes in witness flipping, “Andrew Weissmann, who headed the U.S. Justice Department’s criminal fraud section before joining Mueller’s team last month, is best known for two assignments – the investigation of now-defunct energy company Enron and organized crime cases in Brooklyn, New York – that depended heavily on gaining witness cooperation.”
Weissmann is another organized crime expert, who tried more than 25 cases involving organized crime families such as the Genovese, Colombo and Gambino families, as well as fighting the infiltration of organized crime on Wall Street. Weissmann was a partner at Jenner & Block in New York for five years and co-chair of the firm’s White Collar Practice Group, where he worked on among other issues, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
The team also includes white-collar crime expert Jeannie Rhee, former senior counselor in the DOJ’s National Security Division specializing in cybersecurity Aaron Zebley, former assistant special prosecutor for the Watergate probe James Quarles, and criminal law expert Michael Dreeben..
Part of any good investigation into criminal activity involves putting pressure on the targets through various means to get them to talk. Pressure can include leaking stories to the press floating ideas about who is being investigated and dropping stories that they asked for immunity possibly so they can flip on colleagues and friends.
These tactics serve to put pressure on the target, getting them to talk — hypothetically say, on the phone or over email or in a bugged office. The talking is what opens the flood gates.
President Trump doesn’t appear to require any pressure to stir up his already piqued paranoia, and he talks without compunction or care on Twitter, against legal advice.
But it can’t be helping Trump to know that Mueller has added a witness flipping expert to the team. Retired General Mike Flynn already asked the Senate Intelligence Committee for immunity and was denied. Perhaps he was denied because he wasn’t willing to give them what they wanted, or perhaps he was denied because they want to collect Flynn’s testimony first and keep their options open.
This is called applying pressure to see what it produces. It’s no wonder Trump wants to “fire” Mueller (something he can’t actually do, but we all know that won’t stop the President who could get around this technicality with more interference in the investigation) – Mueller is building a team only a fool wouldn’t be worried about.