October 1, 2017 12:00 pm -

Judging by very telling leaks that have emerged in the last two weeks, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has amped up his investigation into the Russiagate scandal. A few simple key components are being employed by Mueller to investigate a litany of bad players tied to former reality show host Donald Trump.

The first is the team Mueller assembled.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has assembled a team of more than a dozen seasoned prosecutors to probe Russian interference in the 2016 election, including any potential collusion between Russian agents and members of Donald Trump’s campaign.

In addition to a squad of agents from the FBI and the IRS, Mueller has 16 attorneys on staff, a spokesperson for Special Counsel Robert Mueller confirmed to ABC News, but only 14 of them have been identified publicly.

The attorneys are identified by name in the story, but a few stand out from the crowd:

Greg Andres, a former partner at Davis Polk, is a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. Andres is a Justice Department veteran specializing in financial crimes. He gained a wealth of experience in anti-corruption matters both in the public and the private sector, including insider trading, money laundering and tax fraud. Andres has given $3,800 to Democratic candidates and causes, including $1,100 to David Hoffman during his Senate race in 2009 and $2,700 to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in 2017.

Rush Atkinson is an attorney on detail from the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, where he’s worked as a trial attorney for the past three years. In 2016, Atkinson prosecuted a multimillion-dollar fraud case against the heads of a public charter flight company.

Elizabeth Prelogar is an appellate attorney on detail from the Office of the Solicitor General. Prelogar reportedly joined the Mueller probe in June. She previously clerked for both Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan and earned an Overseas Press Club Award for work studying Russian media. She majored in Russian and English during her undergraduate studies at Emory University.

Brandon Van Grack is an attorney on detail from the National Security Division. He served as Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General at the National Security Division before joining the Eastern District of Virginia as a Special Assistant to the US Attorney for national security and international crime.

Aaron Zebley is a former partner at WilmerHale who has previously served with Mr. Mueller at the FBI and has served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia. Zebley served as chief of staff to both Mueller and his successor as FBI Director James Comey. Zebley most recently served as Senior Counselor in the Justice Department’s National Security Division. Before his time at the FBI, Zebley investigated national security matters for the US Attorney’s office in Alexandria, VA and as a FBI Special Agent in the Counterterrorism Division.

That would tie into Sarah Jones’s analysis of where the Mueller probe is headed in her new article at PoliticusUSA.

A letter accompanying a subpoena of an associate of Mike Flynn’s Turkish client suggests that Russia probe Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), violations of which have a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

An associate of the man who hired Trump’s former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn as a lobbyist was subpoenaed by team Muller, ProPublica reported Friday. The letter accompanying the subpoena indicates to legal expert Renato Mariotti that Mueller is investigating violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

“The grand jury is conducting an investigation of possible violations of federal criminal laws involving the Foreign Agents Registration Act, among other offenses,” a letter accompanying the subpoena stated.

The letter is signed by Robert Mueller and Zainab Ahmad, a senior assistant special counsel who specializes in prosecuting terrorism. Korkmaz did not respond to requests for comment.”

Jones links to this Twitter thread by Mariotti, which breaks down the current situation:

And just before the weekend began, this telling story leaked concerning one of the West Wing players likely on Mueller’s grand jury witness list with regard to the other track the special counsel seems to be taking: the likelihood that Trump engaged in obstruction of justice.

West Wing staffers were concerned that White House counsel Don McGahn would quit earlier this summer because of his frustration over meetings between President Donald Trump and his senior and adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election is focusing on both Trump and Kushner, and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to tilt the election in his favor.

Mueller’s focus on Trump appears to center primarily around his decision to fire former FBI director James Comey in May and his motivations for doing so. The White House initially said Comey had been dismissed because of his handling of the Clinton email investigation, but Trump later told NBC’s Lester Holt that “this Russia thing” was a factor in his decision.

Given their proximity to the Russia probe, McGahn was reportedly concerned that the frequency with which Trump and Kushner met could be seen as an attempt to coordinate their stories, three officials familiar with the matter told The Journal.

Big investigations take time, but the sudden uptick in action suggests that Mueller’s multiple probes are firing at full throttle on the eve of likely testimony by current and former White House aides before one of Mueller’s grand juries – and speculation that indictments may be issued by the end of the year, possibly within weeks.

D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.