Tags: Russia Probe | andrew weissman | prosecutor | andrew weissmann | paul manafort

Mueller's 'Pit Bull' Has a Reputation for Going Too Far

Mueller's 'Pit Bull' Has a Reputation for Going Too Far
U.S. attorney Andrew Weissmann (David J. Phillip/AP)

By    |   Monday, 19 February 2018 08:18 PM

A senior deputy to FBI special counsel Robert Mueller is a hard-charging prosecutor known for his brains, tenacity, skill — and pushing the legal limits, the Los Angeles Times reported.

According to the L.A. Times, Andrew Weissmann has largely been at the helm in the case against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who is awaiting trial on a dozen federal charges, including fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering that allegedly extended through his time with the campaign. He has pleaded not guilty.

Weissmann also the likely choice to take the lead in any direct questioning of President Donald Trump in Mueller's probe of Russia meddling and possible crimes by the Trump campaign, the outlet reported.

"If there's something wrong, Andrew Weissmann is the type of person who won't freakin' give up,'' Mary Flood, a lawyer who tracked the white-collar case against Enron, the Houston-based energy conglomerate that collapsed in 2001, for the Houston Chronicle, told the L.A. Times.

Bradley Simon, a defense lawyer who worked alongside Weissmann as an assistant U.S. attorney in Brooklyn in the 1990s, agreed.

"He's tenacious, and very smart,'' Simon told the L.A. Times. "He really got enormous results. He won a lot of big, high-profile cases."

And he is controversial.

James Brown, a former Merrill Lynch executive, said he saw "no reason to hide'' when Weissmann questioned him before a grand jury 14 years ago.

Brown wound up convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice and served nearly a year in prison. Separate convictions for fraud were overturned on appeal, prompting his release.

"My advice to Trump would be: 'Do not talk to this guy,'" Brown said.

Weissmann has also become a target of Trump's allies and surrogates, especially on cable TV, the L.A. Times reported, including Sean Hannity of Fox News, who tore into the prosecutor during 14 episodes in December and January alone.

The critics often cite as partisan bias Weissmann's political contributions to the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and to the Democratic National Committee.

Yet alongside Mueller, a registered Republican and former FBI director with whom Weissmann has worked in the past, the pair have so far overseen indictments of four former Trump aides, plus others.

He got his big start as the head of the legal team in 1997 that convicted Genovese crime family don Vincent Gigante, dubbed "The Oddfather" for his antics to avoid trial by wandering the streets in his bathrobe and slippers.

But his biggest catch was the white-collar case against Enron; three of its top executives were among those convicted.

He also successfully argued in U.S. District Court that Enron's major outside auditor, Arthur Andersen, had covered up the losses at Enron and had shredded documents to hide its role. The long respected Chicago-based firm was convicted of obstructing justice and effectively went out of business in 2002.

It was the Enron case for which Weissmann came under fire for having pushed the legal boundaries; the conviction was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005.

He also named 114 individuals as "unindicted co-conspirators" in the case — and according to the L.A. Times, several defense lawyers complained by dangling the threat of prosecution over so many prospective witnesses, Weissmann blocked testimony that could have helped their clients.

Defense lawyers also have argued Weissmann and his colleagues failed to turn over potentially favorable evidence in some cases — a row that came up during separate appeals lodged by a top Enron executive and four officials at Merrill Lynch, a financial firm that Enron relied on.

The evidence would have "contradicted the theory of the government's case at trial,'' Sidney Powell, who represented one of the Merrill Lynch executives during his appeal, wrote in her 2014 book, "Licensed to Lie.''

"Andrew Weissmann is not fit to practice law – much less serve on Mueller's team,'' Powell wrote in an email to the L.A. Times.

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A senior deputy to special counsel Robert Mueller is a hard-charging prosecutor known for his brains, tenacity, skill, and pushing the legal limits, according to a Los Angeles Times report.
andrew weissman, prosecutor, andrew weissmann, paul manafort
Monday, 19 February 2018 08:18 PM
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