Published June 19, 2017
White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway suggested Monday that the head of the Russia investigation should fully disclose the names of the attorneys he’s hired after it was revealed several Democratic donors are part of the team scrutinizing the Trump administration at the highest levels.
“I think it’s relevant information that the public should have,” Conway told “Fox & Friends.”
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office has started to reveal the makeup of its investigative team. A spokesman said Monday they’ve hired 13 attorneys, with more in the pipeline. To date, the office has confirmed six names – more could be confirmed in the coming days.
So far, this includes Andrew Weissmann, chief of the DOJ criminal division’s fraud section who also donated $2,300 to Barack Obama in 2008; James Quarles, a Watergate assistant special prosecutor who has donated thousands to Obama, Hillary Clinton and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer; and Jeannie Rhee, deputy assistant AG in the Office of Legal Counsel who has likewise donated thousands to Obama and Clinton.
The donor background has fueled complaints from Trump allies like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich that the probe is not independent. Trump himself has started calling the investigation an all-caps “WITCH HUNT.”
Asked about the concerns on Monday, Conway echoed them. “And so if we’re going to talk about transparency and accountability and who all the players are here, I think it’s relevant that people know that Mr. Mueller’s team includes folks who gave significant amounts of money” to Democrats, she said.
Mueller’s office, though, would be governed by policy rules that bar “discrimination in hiring for career positions on the basis of political affiliations,” as outlined in a 2008 DOJ inspector general report.
The Trump legal team has grappled in recent days with its response to a Washington Post report that the Mueller probe is now looking at the president over possible obstruction of justice.
Trump at first seemed to acknowledge he’s under investigation with a Friday tweet that complained he’s under investigation “for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director!” The tweet was a shot at Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the probe and whose memo on James Comey’s performance as FBI director was used as the basis for his firing.
Trump attorney Jay Sekulow, though, told “Fox News Sunday” Trump has not been notified he’s under investigation. He repeated that point to “Fox & Friends” on Monday.
As for the lawyers on Mueller’s staff, Sekulow said Mueller himself has a “sterling reputation in Washington” but Trump’s team will “raise conflicts” about the individuals on his team if necessary.
Trump, meanwhile, has recently hired another high-profile attorney, John Dowd, for his legal team. And Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner may be considering new representation.
“After the appointment of our former partner Robert Mueller as Special Counsel, we advised Mr Kushner to obtain the independent advice of a lawyer with appropriate experience as to whether he should continue with us as his counsel,” Jamie Gorelick, who has been representing Kushner on business and other issues, said in a statement.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman, John Roberts and Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.