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Meet Bob Mueller's team tackling the Russia probe

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is leading the Russia investigation and, most recently, the investigation into whether President Trump obstructed justice. Suffice to say, he's taking the matter seriously, as evidenced by the team of lawyers he has quietly hired over the past few weeks to help him.

Between the lines: The people he's hired don't just look tough on paper — they're legal experts with unique, complementary strengths who have fought and investigated crime all around the world. Their expertise suggests how Mueller views this investigation and the direction in which he is hoping to take it.

The original team started as just three lawyers (plus Mueller) who all once worked at the law firm WilmerHale, where Mueller has worked since his 2013 departure from the FBI. Meet the full investigation dream team:

Aaron Zebley, Mueller's chief of staff when he was FBI director

  • Zebley was an elite FBI agent for 7 years in the Counterterrorism Division
  • He was instrumental in tracking down dangerous Al Qaeda members back in 1999
  • He then became a prosecutor and one of Mueller's go-to confidants
  • He was part of the I-49 team: a small group of FBI agents based in NYC who were actively searching for Osama Bin Laden before the 9/11 attacks

James Quarles III, former Watergate investigator

  • A litigator and a partner at WilmerHale, where he started in 1975. He runs the DC office of the firm
  • He served as an assistant special prosecutor for the Watergate investigation
  • During that investigation, Quarles focused on campaign finance research — something that will certainly be called upon throughout the Russia investigation, particularly after the FBI issued subpoenas for financial disclosures from Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort
  • He has argued cases in front of the Supreme Court

Jeannie Rhee, former deputy attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel

  • Rhee was senior adviser to former Attornery General Eric Holder for two years
  • She advised him and the WH on "constitutional, statutory and regulatory issues regarding criminal law, criminal procedure, executive privilege, civil rights and national security," according to WilmerHale.
  • She tried more than 30 cases when she served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the D.C. Attorney's Office
  • She rejoined WilmerHale as a partner in the Litigation/Controversy Department where she advised "clients who are the subject of government investigations" regarding "white-collar criminal investigations, False Claims Act allegations and securities enforcement matters."
  • In 2015, Rhee represented Hillary Clinton in a case about her private email server, according to Politico.

Andrew Weissmann, DOJ criminal fraud section chief

  • He was Mueller's one-time general counsel
  • Previously led the fraud unit at the DOJ
  • Weismann oversaw the Enron Task Force in the early 2000s, investigating the failed energy company
  • From 1991 to 2002, Weissmann handled cases against various crime families in NY as part of his work in the office of the U.S. Attorney for New York's Eastern District
  • He worked at a law firm where he focused on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, securities fraud, and other issues.

Michael Dreeben, DOJ's deputy solicitor general

  • Dreeben currently serves in the Justice Department, overseeing its criminal docket before the Supreme Court and handling its appellate cases
  • He has argued more than 100 cases in front of the Supreme Court
  • He was a deputy in the Office of the Solicitor General
  • He's been heralded as "1 of the top legal & appellate minds at DOJ in modern times," and has been called "the most brilliant and most knowledgeable federal criminal lawyer in America—period."

Lisa Page, an experienced DOJ trial attorney

  • There has been no official announcement from the special counsel about Page, but WIRED notes Mueller has reached out to her
  • Her investigatory expertise: organized crime cases, money laundering, and one particularly relevant case where she partnered with Hungary's FBI task force to investigate European organized crime.
  • Note: Her work in Hungary is what led to the ongoing money laundering case against Dmitry Firtash, a Ukrainian leader who was once business partners with Paul Manafort.
Mike Allen 3 hours ago
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A White House olive branch: no plan to fire Mueller

Photo: Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Images

After a weekend at war with the Mueller investigation, the White House is extending an olive branch. Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer handling the probe, plans to issue this statement:

“In response to media speculation and related questions being posed to the Administration, the White House yet again confirms that the President is not considering or discussing the firing of the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.”

Why it matters: The White House strategy had been to cooperate with Mueller. So this is an effort to turn down the temperature after a weekend of increasingly personal provocations aimed at the special counsel.

Jonathan Swan 5 hours ago
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Trump's trade plan that would blow up the WTO

President Trump announces tariffs on steel and aluminum earlier this month, flanked by Steven Mnuchin, Wilbur Ross, Robert Lighthizer, and Peter Navarro. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

For months, President Donald Trump has been badgering his economic advisors to give him broad, unilateral authority to raise tariffs — a move that would all but break the World Trade Organization.

His favorite word: “reciprocal.” He’s always complaining to staff about the fact that the U.S. has much lower tariffs on some foreign goods than other countries have on the same American-made goods. The key example is cars: The European Union has a 10 percent tariff on all cars, including those manufactured in America, and China hits all foreign-made cars with 25 percent tariffs. But the U.S. only charges 2.5 percent for foreign cars we import.