The White House is already trying to hold up former FBI Director Robert Mueller from conducting his own investigation of President Trump and Russia.
Earlier this week, Robert Mueller, who served as FBI Director in both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as the special counsel tasked with overseeing the FBI’s investigation into Trump’s potential ties to Russian government officials. While Mueller’s credentials have been praised by both Democrats and Republicans alike, the Trump White House is quietly trying to prevent Mueller from beginning his investigation.
Prior to his appointment as special counsel to the FBI, Mueller worked at the private law firm WilmerHale, which is an international law firm with thousands of employees around the globe. Some of the firm’s more high-profile clients include First Daughter Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner. Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort is also represented by WilmerHale, according to NPR. Kushner, who is considered one of President Trump’s closest advisors, was recently named as a “person of interest” in the ongoing investigation, though no subpoenas have been issued as of this writing.
While Mueller no longer works at the firm, and an ethics expert at the firm told NPR that Mueller “had no role whatsoever in the representation of any client in connection with the Russia inquiry, and he has no confidential information with respect to such matters,” that isn’t stopping the White House from attempting to use an arcane ethics rule to slow Mueller down.
Reuters reported on Friday evening that White House counsel wanted to make use of the Code of Federal Regulations, which stipulates that no government attorney can work on a case involving one of their former employer’s current clients for at least one year. And thanks to an executive order Trump signed not long after his inauguration, that period has now been extended to two years.
The rule can be waived by the Department of Justice (DOJ). Because Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russia probe, the decision on whether or not to waive the rule would fall to Deputy AG Rosenstein, who has not yet indicated whether or not the DOJ would allow Mueller to start work on the Trump-Russia investigation prior to 2019.
Jamie Green is a contributor to the Resistance Report covering the Trump administration, and lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.