Legal teams involved in the Special Counsel investigation (2017–2019)

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The 2017-2019 Special Counsel investigation involves multiple legal teams, specifically the attorneys, supervised by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, taking part in the investigation; the team representing President Trump in his personal capacity; and the team representing the White House as an institution separate from the President.

According to CNN, as of August 2018, the Mueller team includes 15 attorneys, led by Mueller.[1] The additional supporting staff brings the number over 30.

Emmet Flood heads a team representing the White House, and Trump personally is represented by Jay Sekulow, Andrew Ekonomou, Rudy Giuliani, the Raskin & Raskin law firm, and Joanna Hendon. Former members of this team include white-collar crimes expert John Dowd and Ty Cobb representing the office of the presidency.

Mueller's legal team has been consistently attacked as biased against President Trump, who has repeatedly referred to it as "The 13 Angry Democrats".[2] Mueller, though, is a registered Republican, and choosing to hire or not hire career attorneys on the basis of political affiliation is contrary to both Justice Department policy and federal law.[3]

Mueller and investigation team[edit]

Special Counsel and former FBI Director Robert Mueller.

Upon his appointment as special counsel, Mueller resigned his position at the Washington office of law firm WilmerHale, along with two colleagues, Aaron Zebley and James L. Quarles III.[4][5] On 23 May 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts announced they had declared Mueller ethically able to function as special counsel.[6]

Politico proposed that the "ideal team" would likely have six to eight prosecutors, along with administrative assistants and experts in areas such as money laundering or interpreting tax returns.[7] Mueller had hired 17 lawyers by February 2018,[8] and had a total staff of over three dozen, including investigators and other non-attorneys by August 2017.[9] He also has an active role in managing the inquiry.[10]


Support personnel[edit]

  • Jason Alberts: leading corruption investigator with the New York FBI office, formerly a political appointee of President George W. Bush in the Department of the Interior's solicitor's office[22]
  • David Archey: FBI agent, succeeded Peter Strzok as leader of the team's FBI contingent, previously part of the Hillary Clinton email investigation;[22] left in Feb-Mar 2019 to become chief of the FBI's field office in Richmond, VA[23]
  • William Barnett: FBI agent investigating Michael Flynn[22]
  • Peter Carr: team spokesman, a veteran DOJ spokesman[24]
  • Francesco Corral: FBI supervisory special agent investigating cybersecurity aspects of the case, previously worked on foreign intelligence cybersecurity cases[22]
  • Brock W. Domin: FBI special agent, majored in Russian language and literature at Notre Dame, specialized in national security investigations and financial crimes[22]
  • Sherine Ebadi: FBI agent specialized in fraud, money laundering and identity theft[22]
  • Jennifer Edwards: accountant with the FBI since 2006, won the Attorney General's award in 2016 for her work on the DC-area Child Exploitation Task Force of the FBI[22]
  • Robert Gibbs: FBI agent since 2003, previously worked on Chinese espionage cases[22]
  • Walter Giardina: FBI agent and Marine veteran of the Iraq War[22]
  • Curtis Heide: FBI agent previously based in Chicago[22]
  • Omer Meisel: FBI agent since 1999 and former Securities and Exchange Commission investigator, previously worked on high-profile financial crime and public corruption cases[22]

Mueller has also added unidentified agents of the IRS Criminal Investigations Division (also known as CI) to his team. The Daily Beast, referring to the CI division as one of the government's "most tight-knit, specialized, and secretive investigative entities," reported that Mueller had enjoyed working with CI agents when he was a government attorney.[25]

Mueller's team is also working with the Attorney General of New York on its investigation into Manafort's financial transactions.[26]

Former members[edit]

Personnel affiliations[edit]

Though Trump and others have criticized the fact that many members of Mueller's team have had some affiliation with the Democratic Party, federal regulations prohibit Mueller from considering political affiliation in hiring decisions.[38] Republican members of the House of Representatives have accused the investigation of being manned by personnel with an "anti-Trump" bias who "let Clinton off easy last year",[39] in reference to the FBI's investigation of Hillary Clinton's email server, which also contradicts the stated reason for Trump's firing of James Comey.[citation needed]

Investigation expenses[edit]

As of December 2018, the total cost of the investigation has been approximately $25 million, while gaining approximately $48 million.[40][41] More than half of the cost of the investigation was for personnel compensation and benefits. The gains were accrued primarily by uncovering unpaid taxes by targets in the investigation, seizing assets, and collecting fines.[40] The attorneys have taken significant cuts in pay to work on the investigation, with their normal salaries "ranging from just under $1 million (for Zebley) to about $4.1 million (for Quarles)". Their current salaries "range from $105,782 to $187,000".[42]

Trump's legal team[edit]

Trump's lead attorney Rudy Giuliani disclosed on 13 September 2018 that Trump's and Manafort's legal teams have had a joint agreement through which they've exchanged confidential information "all during the investigation".[43]

Members of President Trump's legal team include:[44]

Representing the White House[edit]

Representing Trump personally[edit]

Former members of the President's legal team[edit]

  • Michael J. Bowe: an attorney at Marc Kasowitz's firm[5]
  • Ty Cobb: a white-collar crime lawyer;[54][55] was on White House staff representing the office of the presidency and was not on Trump's personal legal team.[56] He joined in June 2017[44] and announced on 2 May 2018, that he would leave the team with the appointment of Emmet Flood to replace him.[45] Cobb's last day was 18 May 2018.
  • Mark Corallo, spokesman for Kasowitz and the White House; resigned on 20 July 2017.[54]
  • John M. Dowd, former leader of the team;[55][57] joined in June 2017; resigned on 22 March 2018.[58]
  • Marc Kasowitz, Trump's personal attorney and the first member of the team; resigned on 20 July 2017.[59][54]

Prominent lawyers and law firms that have declined offers to join Trump's legal team[edit]

In an article describing the "unique circumstance" of Rudy Giuliani's unpaid leave of absence from Greenberg Traurig while representing Trump, possibly because of "potential conflicts", Christine Simmons referred to how some other law firms may have turned down representing Trump in the Russia case due to "public relations headaches or business and recruitment concerns".[48] Trump has called such views a "Fake News narrative",[60][61] but, according to Ryan Lovelace of The National Law Journal, "many Washington defense attorneys aren't so sure".[61]

A number of prominent lawyers and law firms are known to have declined offers to join Trump's legal team,[62][63] including Robert S. Bennett of Hogan Lovells,[64] Paul Clement and Mark Filip, both with Kirkland & Ellis,[65][65] Robert Giuffra Jr. of Sullivan & Cromwell,[64] Theodore B. Olson of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher,[66] and Brendan V. Sullivan Jr. of Williams & Connolly.[65] Other firms with attorneys who have declined to represent Trump include Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan,[67] Steptoe & Johnson,[67] and Winston & Strawn.[68] Former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova and his wife Victoria Toensing were also briefly slated to join Trump's legal team, but withdrew their services from Trump in March 2018, citing conflicts of interest.[69]


  • Michael Cohen, Trump's former long-time personal attorney, who is fully cooperating with the Special Counsel and admitted to violating campaign finance laws, is represented by Lanny Davis.[70][71]
  • James Comey, whose assertions regarding statements made by Trump are central to the investigation, has a legal team including former independent counsel Patrick Fitzgerald.[72]
  • Paul Manafort, a key player in the allegations of improper contact between then-candidate Trump and the Russian government, is represented by Kevin Downing.[73][74] Trump's and Manafort's legal teams have had a joint agreement through which they've exchanged confidential information "all during the investigation".[43]

See also[edit]


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