Political News

Robert Mueller team details millions in ethics disclosures

Posted August 9

Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller and key members of his team revealed millions of dollars of financial holdings and previous legal work for companies that could figure into their investigation of President Donald Trump's campaign, according to financial disclosures released Tuesday.

According to the documents released by the Justice Department after CNN requested the disclosures, Mueller holds a roughly $3.5 million share in the Washington law firm WilmerHale to become special counsel. He also made tens of thousands of dollars delivering speeches to groups including Ford Motor Company, Citi bank and Banamex, a Mexican bank.

Mueller and Aaron Zebley, Mueller's former chief of staff at the FBI, both represented Facebook at WilmerHale before leaving for the special counsel's office. And Jeannie Rhee, a senior lawyer on Mueller's team, represented Google at WilmerHale before joining the special counsel's team.

The proliferation of fake news and pro-Trump messaging on major platforms, including Twitter, Google and Facebook, has drawn the interest of both federal and congressional investigators and could potentially play a key role in the investigations.

The disclosures also showed Zebley had a WilmerHale partnership share of $1.437 million; Rhee's partnership share and capital contribution interest totaled $2.063 million; and James Quarles, a senior lawyer on the team, had a WilmerHale partnership share of $5.889 million.

A White House spokeswoman declined comment for this article. A request for comment from Mueller's office was not immediately returned Wednesday morning.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller in May to lead the department's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election. The documents represented disclosures from five members of Mueller's team and Mueller. CNN reported in June that Mueller had brought on 13 lawyers to work on the probe, though it's unclear how many members of the team would have to submit the disclosures known as an Office of Government Ethics 278 form.

In each of the financial disclosures with the Office of Government Ethics, ethics officials determined that Mueller and his team did not violate any ethics rules.

But that doesn't mean their team is immune to political attacks.

Trump has termed the investigation a "witch hunt" repeatedly and said any investigation of his family's finances would cross a "red line." And Trump's aides have, according to The New York Times, spent time digging into the histories of Mueller's lawyers.

CNN reported in June that three members of Mueller's team donated a total of $56,000 to Democrats prior to joining the probe, according to campaign finance records.

At the end of June, Trump alleged in a Fox News interview that "the people that have been hired are all Hillary Clinton supporters, some of them worked for Hillary Clinton." Two of the now former WilmerHale attorneys did legal work connected to the Clintons. Zebley provided legal service to Justin Cooper, who helped manage Clinton's private email server. Rhee represented the Clinton Foundation in a racketeering lawsuit and Clinton herself in a lawsuit seeking access to her private emails.

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