Republican lawmakers want answers regarding Special Counsel prosecutor Andrew Weissmann who is expected to soon be leaving his post at the Department of Justice, but significant questions still linger about his knowledge and connections with one of the FBI’s top sources into the Russia Trump probe.
Reps. Mark Meadows, R-NC, and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio want answers from the DOJ. They have requested documents, communications and have sent multiple detailed questions regarding Weismann, and his colleague DOJ prosecutor Zainab Ahmad. According to the letter, the Justice Department has been asked to respond to their request by 5 p.m. EST (today) Friday.
The concern is based on the recent information provided in testimony by senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr. Ohr had told lawmakers that he had met with Weissmann and Ahmad in the summer of 2016 and warned them that the anti-Trump dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele was not properly vetted. Ohr also told the prosecutors about Steele’s vehement bias against Trump.
In a letter sent to Attorney General William Barr on March 1, the lawmakers have asked the Justice Department to provide all information about “actions taken or not taken” by Weissmann and Ahmad after they met with Ohr.
“This development raises questions about the impartiality and independence of Weissmann and Ahmad as senior members of the Special Counsel investigation,” the letter states. “We write to determine what steps both Weissmann and Ahmad took to apprise Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III and the Justice Department of their contacts with Ohr and the substance of those meetings before their assignment to the Special Counsel’s office.”
Meadows and Jordan’s letter raises significant questions. In essence, the appointment of a special counsel – bypassing the normal channel of prosecution – is to ensure impartiality and independence of those charged with the investigation.
For example, in the federal rules governing the appointment of a special counsel is explicit. It states that the special counsel “shall be a lawyer with a reputation for integrity and impartial decision making, and with appropriate experience to ensure both that the investigation will be conducted ably, expeditiously and thoroughly, and that investigative and prosecutorial decisions will be supported by an informed understanding of the criminal law and Department of Justice policies.”
DOJ officials could not be reached immediately for comment.
What do Meadows and Jordan want?
The lawmakers are also seeking information on how the Department of Justice and special counsel possibly handled the situation and if Weissmann and Ahmad disclosed their meeting with Ohr.
- identify all actions taken by Weissmann and Ahmad, including disclosures, to apprise the Department or the Special Counsel’s Office of their role in the events Bruce Ohr testified to about supplying the FBI with information relating to the Trump campaign;
- Explain all actions taken by Weissmann and Ahmad after learning Steele, Simpson, and Nellie Ohr were providing Bruce Ohr information for the purpose of relaying it to the FBI;
- Provide all documents and communications referring or relating to disclosures made by Weissmann and Ahmad as part of their appointments to the Special Counsel’s Office;
- Provide all documents and communications related to the process that the Department used to evaluate prosecutors’ and investigators’ independence to serve the Special Counsel’s Office
Weissmann the “Pit Bull”
Weissmann is described by the New York Times as Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Pitbull. Why? Because he is a tough prosecutor, who has been accused by other lawyers for doing whatever it takes to win. He was directly involved and oversaw the special counsel prosecutions and played a direct role in prosecuting former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Manafort was recently sentenced to seven and half years in prison for tax fraud and evasion.
After a roughly two year investigation by Mueller there is no evidence of conspiracy or collusion with Russian. Instead, the special counsel investigation has prosecuted a handful of former Trump campaign advisors and volunteers on mainly process crimes, tax fraud and tax evasion.
Republican lawmakers are expected to push forward with the evidence they have been amassing in their own investigations on Capitol Hill. Meadows and Jordan stated
Mueller is expected to announce the conclusion of the investigation at any time. However, it is uncertain if the report will be made public. It is a decision that will be left up to Barr if he believes it will serve the public interest.