Special Counsel Robert Mueller III and lead attorney in the Special Counsel’s Office Andrew Weissmann have been connected to one another throughout most of their careers, and both men moved quickly to the top tackling major crime syndicates and white-collar crime.
Ironically, both men were also connected in two of the biggest corruption investigations in FBI history. But rarely are Weissmann and Mueller’s past cases discussed in the media. Their past is relevant because it gives a roadmap to the future — now that these two longtime colleagues are charged with one of the most controversial investigations into a president in recent history.
“The integrity of the “investigation” and of the “investigators” must be a paramount priority in our criminal justice system at all times,” said David Schoen, a civil rights and defense attorney, who has been outspoken on the special counsel investigation. “Certainly this fundamental guiding principle must be followed when it comes to an investigation of the duly elected President of the United States. The outcome potentially affects every one of us in very real terms…There were many alternatives to Mr. Mueller and his team and all of their very troubling baggage.”
“(Mueller and Weissmann) were both connected to two of the biggest scandals in FBI history,” Schoen added.
Special Counsel spokesman, Peter Carr, declined to comment.
Weissman, described by the New York Times as Mueller’s ‘pit bull’ was Mueller’s legal advisor for national security in 2005 and later was selected by Mueller to be his General Counsel at the FBI. It made sense for Mueller, who left his $3.4 million a year job at the top D.C. law firm WilmerHale, to bring Weissmann with him to the special counsel team to investigate President Trump and his alleged collusion with Russia in the 2016 election. Weissmann, was a specialist in tracking financing and corruption, was at the time head of the Department of Justice’s criminal fraud section. Mueller saw nobody better than Weissmann to help navigate the murky waters of the investigation and Weissmann was lauded by some and criticized by others, for doing whatever it took to win a case, as reported.
Mueller was also aware of critical issues with Weissmann’s handling of the Enron and Arthur Anderson cases, as well as his involvement in the Eastern District of New York’s case against the Colombo crime family.
“(Mueller and Weissmann) were both connected to two of the biggest scandals in FBI history…”
Attorney David Schoen
Weissmann’s involvement in the Colombo case in the 1990s was the first of many cases that would draw criticism from his peers but this case, in particular, would be one of the FBI’s biggest blunders. As I outlined last month, Judge Charles P. Sifton reprimanded Weissmann for withholding evidence from the defense, as previously reported. Weissmann allowed a corrupt FBI agent to testify against the defendants in the case despite having knowledge that the agent was under investigation. The agent had a nefarious relationship with a reputed underboss of the Colombo crime family, who was accused later of numerous murders, court records reveal.
Mueller had similar troubles during the 1980s in Boston when he was Acting U.S. Attorney from 1986 through 1987. Under Mueller’s watch in Boston, another one of the FBI’s most scandalous cases occurred. At the time, an FBI agent by the name of John Connolly, who is now in prison for murder-related charges, had been the handler for James ‘Whitey’ Bulger. Bulger, who Connolly aided in escaping FBI custody in the 90s, was a notorious mobster and murderer who had been working as a confidential informant for the FBI against other crime syndicates in the Boston area. Mueller, who oversaw the FBI during his time there, was criticized by the media and congressional members for how the situation in Boston was handled. Bulger, who committed numerous murders during his time as an informant, disappeared for more than 16 years until he was finally captured in California in 2011; by that time Mueller was director of the FBI.
“Many have suggested (Mueller) never should have been FBI Director, a position in which he then hired Weissmann to be his counsel – and, of course, Weissman presided over the No. 1 most corrupt relationship between an FBI agent (Lyn Devecchio) and his informant (Greg Scarpa, Sr.),” Schoen said.
The defendants in the Colombo related cases were acquitted after it was discovered that Weissmann and his team had withheld evidence. There were 16 defendants in front of 48 different jurors and 4 different judges. Three others had their convictions overturned. Two men convicted without the evidence having been revealed remain in prison, serving life sentences.
At one trial, Weissmann and his co-counsel expressly vouched for the integrity of the corrupt agent, concealing the corruption, and arguing to the jury that if they had any reason to believe the agent lied about anything they should acquit the defendant, according to court records and Schoen.
But Mueller and Weissmann’s past isn’t part of the public discussion. The special counsel investigation has enjoyed, overall, bipartisan support from senior lawmakers. Recently, however, the tide may be shifting against the ongoing investigation, which has yet to prove collusion.
Evidence has surfaced over the past year revealing the FBI’s partisan behavior and the bureau’s role in targeting the Trump investigation. The DOJ’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz, as well as Congress, have uncovered troves of documents that have led to the removal, demotion or firing of numerous FBI agents and DOJ officials. Last week, former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was fired by the DOJ on a recommendation by the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility after it received evidence revealing McCabe lied under oath and authorized a leak to the Wall Street Journal, as reported.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller III and Whitey Bulger
- James ‘Whitey’ Bulger: a notorious gangster and murderer from Boston, who was also a long time confidential informant of the FBI.
- During the 1980s, Mueller served as an assistant US attorney and then as the acting US attorney in Boston. The FBI was under his supervision during the time Bulger was an informant.
- Former FBI Special Agent John Connolly, who is now in prison for racketeering and murder-related charges, had been the handler for James ‘Whitey’ Bulger. He allegedly tipped off Bulger that one of his business associates was going to testify against him. Bulger had his associate murdered.
- Bulger was a confidential informant for the FBI since 1975 and escaped arrest by the FBI in the 90s after his FBI handler informed Bulger an arrest was imminent. He was on the run for 16 years and captured in 2011. Mueller was then director of the FBI.
- In 1965 four men were convicted of a murder that the FBI later learned they did not commit. Three of the men faced death sentences.
- The FBI had learned during the time Bulger was an informant that the men did not commit the murders. The men served decades in prison and two of them died in prison.
- A jury trial revealed that the FBI had known the men were innocent but withheld the evidence from state law enforcement authorities.
- In 2007, a jury awarded more than $101 million in damages to the surviving men and their families.
- However, during the time the men were in prison Mueller wrote multiple letters to the parole and pardons board opposing clemency for the four men. Mueller never answered questions as to what he knew about the case or if he was aware of the men’s innocence, as reported extensively by Kevin Cullen, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer with the Boston Globe.
- In 2013, Bulger went on trial for 32 counts of racketeering, money laundering and extortion. He was also indicted on weapons charges and 19 counts of murder.