Robert Mueller Insinuates Andrew Weissmann Had Incomplete Information

I’ve started reading Andrew Weissmann’s book.

I’m sure I’ll have a review of it one day, like I one day will finally do the post explaining why I think Peter Strzok’s book came 6 months or maybe a year too late.

But for the moment, I want to talk about this Robert Mueller comment obliquely pushing back on Weissmann’s book.

Former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III pushed back Tuesday against a prosecutor in his office who says in a tell-all book that investigators should have done more to hold President Trump accountable, suggesting that the account is “based on incomplete information” and asserting that he stands by his decisions in the case.

The rare public statement from Mueller came on the day Andrew Weissmann, a former prosecutor in the special counsel’s office, released a book alleging that the group did not fully investigate Trump’s financial ties and should have stated explicitly that it believed he obstructed justice.

Although Mueller’s statement did not name Weissmann or the book, “Where Law Ends,” it seemed clearly designed to address some of his complaints — particularly those directed at Aaron Zebley, Mueller’s top deputy, whom Weissmann said was not sufficiently aggressive.

“It is not surprising that members of the Special Counsel’s Office did not always agree, but it is disappointing to hear criticism of our team based on incomplete information,” Mueller said.

Weissmann’s book bills itself as the tell-all from the investigation. But it’s generally not. It’s the tell-all of one-third of the investigation, the Manafort team. The book will tell how they got Rick Gates to flip and thought they got Manafort to cooperate but in the end Manafort just used that as an opportunity to find out what prosecutors knew, so he could report back to Trump. There are interesting details in that. But the interesting details cover just a third of the investigation.

Just as a metric of what I mean, the name Stone shows up 18 times in his book, and a number of those contextualize the rat-fucker’s decades-old relationship with Manafort.

I think Mueller’s comment suggesting that Weissmann had “incomplete information” is particularly salient, given what is public with regards to the obstruction investigation, another third of the investigation.

That’s because the way the Mueller Report is built, it lays out predicate such that when Trump commutes Stone’s sentence or when Trump causes his Attorney General to move Manafort to home confinement or when Trump gets Barr to use throw multiple different flunkies to blow up the Mike Flynn prosecution — all in an effort to get Roger Stone and Paul Manafort and Mike Flynn to continue to cover up what really happened in 2016 — that only builds on the obstruction volume. Those efforts become part of a continuing conspiracy to cover all this up. So, short of the increasing likelihood that Trump pardons himself and/or refuses to cede power, the Mueller investigation is preserved, the obstruction charges are preserved. They’re even preserved given Billy Barr’s judgement that the facts, on March 22, 2019 did not yet merit obstruction charges, because after that time, Trump would have done what it was obvious he would do as laid out in Volume II, in fact what Billy Barr said was a crime three times in his confirmation hearing.

The way in which the Mueller Report is drafted, it takes the rule that you cannot charge the President for anything, and preserves the obstruction charges that everyone agrees he should be charged with. It not only does that, but it lays out evidence that if Trump uses his pardon power to reward his flunkies for covering up his actions — something even Billy Barr has said is a crime — then it will amount to completing the criminal act of obstruction. The Mueller Report lays out the evidence why the actions that Trump will eventually take (and to a significant extent, has already taken) amount to a crime.

That’s a still-imperfect solution, given that Congress didn’t do what Mueller seems to have expected (impeach) and given that Trump looks increasingly likely to refuse to leave. It doesn’t negate what Weissmann argues about the rule of law.

But it does make Mueller’s public but oblique rebuke of Weissmann far more interesting.

21 replies
    • Chris.EL says:

      c’mon man!


      … throwing it out there!!!

      I think we really need to get to the BOTTOM OF THE ***TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY FOOLISH CONCEPT*** that a WTAF-ing “president” can pardon himself!!!!

      Granted IANAL, only a lowly secretary, but I have worked for MANY BRILLIANT LAWYERS — as a result I’m not buying the concept!

      Not buying the concept.

      Total B.S. !!

      Another concept that needs to be seriously scrutinized relates to the POTUS can’t be prosecuted for crimes.

      Okay: if that is the case, then the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of The United States of America needs to undergo SOME SERIOUS VETTING — c’mon man!

      We’re supposed just take Donald Trump’s **word** for it???

      You know what they say about a witness’s testimony in a criminal trial: if they lie once, you can dismiss ALL of their testimony…

      Just sayin’

      Born in Oakland California and proud of it!

      • Mitch Neher says:

        Yes, but . . . Trump has already publicly proclaimed that he has the power to pardon himself. And that means that Trump already has pardoned himself.

        It’s just that the one Trump has not yet accepted the pardon that the other Trump had granted the first Trump. And that’s why it hasn’t yet been publicly disclosed that Trump has accepted his own self pardon.

        • Tony el Tigre says:

          Trump has demonstrated that no behavior is beneath him.

          If all is lost and he has to go, him resigning so Pence can pull a Ford-Nixon pardon out of his ass sounds like a 50/50 bet to me.

          No one ever lost money overestimating the corruption of Donald Trump

  1. CaliLawyer says:

    Mueller’s timid stance that he couldn’t state his logical conclusions because DJT somehow couldn’t defend himself always struck me as BS – El Prezo has the biggest bully pulpit in the world. Seems to have stuck in others’ craw as well

    • subtropolis says:

      Seriously? I’d expect a lawyer, of all people, to understand that whatever Trump spews in his twitter feed does not equate to defending himself in a court of law. That “timid” appearance before Congress was about walking a tightrope so as not to fuck up any future prosecution of the asshole.

  2. Boy C says:

    So is this why Sydney Powell really doesn’t want Trump to pardon Flynn and does it come close to answering why this Benny hill shit with Sullivan is happening?

    • Coyle says:

      Not just Powell. It would explain why Barr is willing to drag the AG’s office, the DOJ and most of the intelligence community through the mud just to get Flynn off.

        • Hika says:

          Stone was not *pardoned*. His sentence was commuted. It shows how desperately Trump needs the help of Stone in his re-election bid that he commuted Stone’s sentence. And that also hints strongly just how much Trump relied on Stone’s help four years ago.

  3. soothsayer says:

    “So, short of the increasing likelihood that Trump pardons himself and/or refuses to cede power, the Mueller investigation is preserved, the obstruction charges are preserved. They’re even preserved given Billy Barr’s judgement that the facts, on March 22, 2019 did not yet merit obstruction charges, because after that time, Trump would have done what it was obvious he would do as laid out in Volume II, in fact what Billy Barr said was a crime three times in his confirmation hearing.”

    Interesting and great thoughts on the obstruction aspects. I guess, I am left wondering, if the whole point was for State and State only to investigate the financial issues, at least from a criminal perspective.

    But, from a counterintel perspective, I still wonder why it has been suggested by the talking heads, that no one has. It really seems way too far fetched that no one would have. I cannot imagine, that any average let alone above average counterintel organization, would not have done this very basic thing, since it is written into the very specific security clearance procedures as a core national security threat. I call bluff on this one, it just doesn’t make any sense. Am I 100% wrong to think it is truly unlikely that no one in a serious counterintel group looked at his financial debt entanglements from a national security perspective? The thought really seems ludicrous, there has to be some unknown here.

  4. Chris.EL says:

    Off topic…

    An apology may be in order for what follows; this overwhelming crap flowing from Trump, et al. is starting to make me crazy.

    Well, a little bit ago (10:15 pm now in California) I started to look at something on my phone, probably news.

    One of the trashy advertising things popped up with this HOTT selling point: my quickie search: “mockup of two dollar bill proud patriots space force” brought this up:
    Proud Patriots “Donald Trump Space Force 2$…”
    The “legal tender” looks just like a bona fide dollar bill!!!!! The face within the typical oval bears a striking resemblance to Donald Trump!

    This looks like a highjacking of United States currency!

    Is this a usual thing now? WTF?!!!

  5. Diogenes says:

    ‘Incomplete information’: that we will never, ever have.

    seriously, Mueller should have the grace to STFU given how badly he fucked his country. His mistakes were catastrophic: to not follow the money-trail (of a potential Russia asset!), to not subpoena the president, to so naively allow Barr to cheat him, to expect a double-negative statement to have any anchoring resonance with the public whatsoever . . . history will not be kind.

  6. GKJames says:

    But what is the “incomplete information”? Is Mueller saying that there is evidence to which Weissmann did (does) not have access?

    • milestogo says:

      “Is Mueller saying that there is evidence to which Weissmann did (does) not have access?”

      It seems like a likely read which would indicate the Mueller team approach was potentially fragmented on some kind of need to know basis.

      Maybe the “incomplete information” was that Mueller’s family was threatened so he backed off. I’m kidding of course but “incomplete information” can take forms other than evidence.

      • Vicks says:

        Looking at all of these books, clearly hindsight is (so) 2020.

        What Weissman is saying certainly needs to be said, but it worth considering we may never know how hard Mueller was squeezed
        Knowing that Mueller is one of the few people in the world that had such an early glimpse into how dark and evil Trump world is, and knowing he was also was one of the few that in the early days saw first hand what Trump and his “people” (including Rosenstein) were/are willing to destroy in order to build and hang onto power, I think Mueller calling out Weismann for “incomplete information” could be the most understated shaming on record.

  7. JAFive says:

    Having just finished the book, Weissmann is actually explicit that he’s working from incomplete information and that the team was compartmentalized. Mueller and Zebley certainly had information that they kept from Weissmann and they weren’t sharing their thinking on various issues.

    He describes, for example, the drafting of the report:
    “It also feel to Michael [Dreeben’s] team to stitch together, into one coherent report, the various drafts of pieces that Team R, Team M, and Team 600 were finishing and sending off to both Michael and Mueller. That work was unfolding with enormous secrecy; even within the office, we had little knowledge about the other sections of the report. This felt of a piece with my experience working for Mueller at the Bureau which, under his direction, had been a strictly “need to know” place as well”

    Weissmann learned from Dreeben, quite late in the process, that Mueller wasn’t planning to reach a conclusion on obstruction and wasn’t privy to the process of making that decision. He seems to have little visibility into the obstruction aspects of the investigation generally.

    Reading the book, it’s clear that Weissmann had visibility in three ways: 1) he was directly overseeing the Manafort and Gates prosecutions and has direct knowledge of those 2) some information was explicitly shared in supervisors meetings and 3) Weissmann was picking up water cooler gossip about the other investigations.

    He makes clear in the book that he developed a close relationship with Jeannie Rhee, and she informally shared a lot of the “Team R” material with him. He didn’t have a close relationship with Jim Quarles, so he wasn’t getting much of the obstruction material informally and the formal information sharing was limited.

    What’s crazy here is just how tight the implied circle was. Mueller and Zebley were in the loop on everything, and that appears to be it (though Dreeben may been in a similar position). Weissmann suggests that Zebley was filtering the information that got to Mueller (he recounts at least one episode in which Zebley evidently made a commitment to the White House without Mueller’s knowledge). He doesn’t go so far (despite making Zebley the minor villain of the story) as to say that Zebley was manipulating Mueller, but it’s quite clear from the book that at a maximum Zebley and Mueller (and perhaps neither if they weren’t fully honest with one another) really know the whole story of what happened in the office.

  8. vvv says:

    A quick note here that a few hours ago on Colbert, Weissman readily conceded that he didn’t have all the info that Mueller did.

    He further asserted that, besides being a bastardization of a John Locke quote, the book title, “Where the law ends” refers to Barr’s false summary of the Mueller report.

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