Updating the Mueller Docket: What Has Zainab Ahmad Been Working On?

I’ve been meaning for some days to update my running commentary on what Mueller’s prosecutors are doing.

But yesterday’s Mike Flynn filing made a point that I’ve been meaning to make: counterterrorism and international extradition expert Zainab Ahmad remains on Mueller’s team, but we’ve barely heard from her.

I’ve recently updated my own running docket (which is far too unwieldy to fit on a page anymore). It also includes a number of related cases:

  • Michael Cohen’s SDNY prosecution
  • Sam Patten’s DC prosecution
  • Maria Butina’s DC prosecution
  • Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova’s EDVA charges

I’ve also noted the departures of the prosecutors who have left (suggesting either that their part of the investigation is completed, or they’re bringing some part of it back to their home departments at DOJ to pursue).

One thing I’ve been following in recent Mueller activities is Jeannie Rhee’s seeming central role in what we’re seeing. If there’s a conspiracy-in-chief prosecution, she seems to be in charge of that.

Also of interest, Rush Atkinson appears to have ties to a seemingly disparate series of cases involving Russia: the IRA prosecution and related Pinedo case, the GRU prosecution. He’s also involved in both Michael Cohen’s Mueller prosecution and Jerome Corsi’s aborted cooperation. Notably, he’s not involved in the Andrew Miller subpoena, which may mean that he’s not involved in everything pertaining to Roger Stone. So his presence on a case may suggest a direct tie to Russians.

But perhaps the most interesting thing this docket shows is that, among the prosecutors (as distinct from the appellate specialists, though it’s unclear whether Elizabeth Prelogar is on the team for her Russian expertise as well as her appellate speciality or not), Zainab Ahmad is the only person whose work we’ve barely seen. While she has had a role in the Flynn cooperation, Brandon Van Grack (who’s in the process of transitioning back to his National Security Division home) took the lead on that.

As an experienced counterterrorism prosecutor normally located in EDNY (the district where JFK Airport is located), Ahmad is an expert in prosecutions involving extraditions (because of the JFK connection, many of those go through EDNY, and that’s where a lot of the important precedents are). Also of note, given the questions around whether there are two or three parts of a Mueller investigation on which Flynn cooperated, she’s an Arabic speaker.

We’ve not seen a substantive plea or charge related to what I’ll call the Middle Eastern graft (centered around, but not limited to, the Seychelles meeting Flynn attended), though we know that Mueller has spent a lot of time investigating it, and that’s an area where Flynn’s cooperation would be key. Given Ahmad’s skill set, it would make sense that she would be involved in those areas of the investigation.

As I disclosed in July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

40 replies
  1. harpie says:

    For some reason, I’m reminded of the Salvator Mundi part of this saga:

    Marcy at the end of May:

    4:24 AM – 30 May 2018 So shit Oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev, who has helped Trump launder $$, needs to sell his Da Vinci at a huge markup. And at a time when half the Saudi royal family is worried about being forcibly separated from their riches at the Ritz, an MbS buddy swoops in to buy Christian art. / Voila! Trump’s DOJ drops the case.





    • Joseph Cannon says:

      There’s definitely something weird going on with that purchase. The unexpected $450 million price tag came after Rybolovlev tried to sue the man from whom HE purchased the work, a dealer — actually, a wheeler-dealer — named Yves Bouvier. Bouvier had purchased the piece for $80 million in 2013 and then sold it a few months later to Rybolovlev for $127 million.

      In 2015, Bouvier’s various recent deals led to a massive scandal called the Bouvier affair. It’s an insanely complicated business involving allegations of forgery and money laundering.  At some point, HSBC became involved. You could spend the rest of your life trying to figure out what was going on.

      Rybolovlev sued Bouvier at this time for some $2 billion; at issue were other works of art, along with the Leonardo. Again, it’s an incredibly complex affair — which continues to get more convoluted by the day — but the bottom line is that Rybolovlev felt that he was overcharged.

      Let that sink in. He paid $127 million; he sold the work for over $400 million. But he thought he was overcharged.

      We still don’t know why he came to that conclusion, but one possibility is that a certain photo emerged. The photo — previously hidden from the public — showed what the painting looked like after previous overpainting had been removed, and before the new overpainting was applied. Basically, this Salvator Mundi was heavily, heavily damaged a long time ago, with wide areas of missing paint. The current work should really be considered a collaboration between Leonardo and restorer Diane Modestini.

      Moreover, there are a growing number of people who question whether the original was wholly the work of Leonardo Da Vinci. In my own humble fashion, I’ve contributed to this debate.  Having studied the matter since 2007, my ladyfriend (who has a degree in Art History) and I believe that the painting previously owned by Rybolvev came from Leonardo’s studio but was left unfinished, and the so-called de Ganay version (the one in red) also contains passages in the master’s hand.

      Bottom line: Just a short while ago, Rybolovlev felt that he had been ripped off. So what prompted the $450 million purchase?

      Oh — and I think I’m in love with Zainab Ahmad. She looks like a Marvel Comics ass-kicker.

  2. Yohei72 says:

    Wait wait wait. Mueller not only has a bunch of angry Democrats, but a Muslim on his team? Totally biased!

  3. Coffae says:

    That would about do it for Trump; if it came out that he was conspiring with factions from the Middle-east. Especially given how much he raised that President Obama was a Muslim, and how that rallied the troops. (Not that most level-headed Americans were roused in the slightest by these allegations.)

  4. Peterr says:

    Trump does not deal well with uncertainty, nor with not being in control of things.

    I’m reasonably sure this is why folks on Team Trump have told him things like “this will be over by Thanksgiving” (even if that was two Thanksgivings ago) — not because they know what is going on in Mueller’s office, but that this gives their boss the illusion of a certain element of control of the situation. Of course, that illusion only lasts until whatever date has passed, and then they need to do it again.

    But each time it happens, it only deepens Trump’s sense that he is not in control — and that out-of-control feeling has been growing geometrically with each court filing that doesn’t wrap things up.

    And this post will ratchet things up exponentially from there for Trump. There are a lot of things going on in the Special Counsel’s Office, but someone pointing out that there’s a staff prosecutor that we haven’t even heard from yet is yet another neon sign shining into the darkness that is Trump’s soul that this ain’t over.

    Not by a long shot.


  5. CaliLawyer says:

    As NSA Flynn would have been knee-deep in both the Russian flank and the Middle Eastern flank of Team Trump’s efforts to remake American foreign policy vis a vis Russia and the Middle East, so he undoubtedly has much to share. He also would have been their eyes and ears over the intelligence community, which would have certainly been on Trump’s radar after his security briefings and the pubic reports on Russian meddling – that, too, would be of interest to Mueller and the counter-intelligence part of his team. Turns out he likes his son and military pension more than Trump.

  6. jonb says:

    Can we get explanation of flynn and his connection to Reza Zarrab ? also its far too coincidental that Rudy911 was hired to free Zarrab?  Was there a plan by trump to get him freed so he wouldn’t testify about flynn?  dont have a clue as to why Rudy/trump  would want to help someone helping Iran evade sanctions…SOOO many threads to follow



  7. onwatch says:

    Responding to: harpie says:
    December 5, 2018 at 11:14 am
    “For some reason, I’m reminded of the Salvator Mundi part of this saga:”
    It is interesting that the Salvator Mundi has not been shown at its new venue, it has now lost its former regal ownership claim to another work, and doubt about Leonardo creeps in…

    • viget says:

      I know people around here harp on this, but basically you need to right click the Reply link and select “Open in new window”.  Then left click on the reply link in the new window, and it will work.  A pain, I know, but it’s been difficult to fix for reasons that Rayne can better explain than I.

  8. Mark Ospeck says:

    >So shit Oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev, who has helped Trump launder $$, needs to sell his Da Vinci at a huge >markup. And at a time when half the Saudi royal family is worried about being forcibly separated from their riches >at the Ritz, an MbS buddy swoops in to buy Christian art. / Voila! Trump’s DOJ drops the case.

    great prequel point, EW. Keep up connecting those dots.
    Avattoir comment about putting up “the Rat Signal,” almost made me fall out of my chair :)
    But one has to be pretty old to understand that reference.
    Av, how about riffing some on “fractured fairytales” ?
    there are a lot of them about

  9. tjallen says:

    Maybe a column with the Court Name and Judge’s Name?

    Also, will this list appeals? I guess the Manafort appeal didn’t get off the ground, and I don’t know if anyone got assigned to it.

    I know, you’re plenty busy already; thanks for all you do!

  10. stryx says:

    I apologise for not being able to keep track of all the various crimes, but I saw a story today that mentioned Deutsche Bank? Like maybe they were involved in this whole mess? Any ideas?

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    EW says she’s on “tenterhooks.” She’s waiting to see whether @dandrezner will write a piece about the startling arrest of Huawei’s CFO in Canada – and her expected extradition to the US – or another piece on how Toddler Trump was able to sit through someone else’s funeral without jumping into the casket and saying, “Make it about me, me, me!”

    Tenterhooks comes from the old clothmaking practice of stretching cloth on hooks for drying.  It led to the medieval torture practice of stretching a prisoner’s body on the same hooks, pending their “confession” and final demise.

    To be on tenterhooks is to be tortured from waiting for a delayed outcome.

    • Rugger9 says:

      That Huawei one’s nastier than most since she is apparently the founder’s daughter and (of course) close to Xi through dad.  Like the sparrows posted about earlier this week, there seems to be ways for Kaiser Quisling to demonstrate his continued usefulness to his handlers, such as pardoning them or expelling them as spies…

      The money may be stopping otherwise.

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