The Russia Investigation Heats Up As Mueller Expands His Team

As the news cycle remained captivated by new reporting from the Washington Post which alleged that the president himself dictated his eldest son’s statement regarding a 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer, special counsel Robert Mueller quietly added another attorney to his already formidable team. According to a report by Reuters, the newest addition to Mueller’s staff is Greg Andres, a former deputy assistant attorney general who specializes in matters involving foreign bribery.

With each passing day, the federal probe into the possible existence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign appears to expand. It also appears that each evolution in investigative sophistication very nearly moves in lock-step with the outbreak of additional revelations indicating undisclosed meetings and questionable associations between those within President Trump’s immediate orbit and affiliates of the Kremlin.

A mere month ago, the Los Angeles Times published the previously recorded remarks of Newsmax boss Christopher Ruddy, a longtime friend of Trump, who indicated that the president was giving serious consideration to the notion of firing Mueller. Almost immediately, CBS News aired the comments of prominent figures from both political parties, many issuing statements which sternly warned the president not to embark upon such a politically calamitous course.

Protesters assemble outside the White House in response to the firing of James Comey.

After seemingly realizing the potentially enormous ramifications of dismissing Mueller, arguably the nation’s most respected law enforcement official, the New York Times reported that Trump’s legal team was diligently devising a strategy to sideline Mueller as well as various members of his team. The stated goal of the Trump team was to uncover potentially damaging conflicts of interest which could be used to force the recusal of investigators and discredit the investigation itself.

As the special counsel’s investigation widened, and as the effort to neutralize the investigation fizzled, the Washington Post reported that the president had asked aides about the intricacies of the executive’s pardon powers. In the same article, it was speculated that the president’s public lambasting of Attorney General Jeff Sessions was part of a wider strategy to pave the way for Mueller’s ouster.

Special counsel Robert Mueller briefs the Senate.

Nevertheless, Mueller has persisted, much to the ostensible ire of the president, who has long held that the entire Russia issue is nothing more than a “witch hunt.” As it stands, and as NPR has detailed, Mueller’s team is currently comprised of 16 attorneys, a collection of professionals which constitute a prosecutorial “murderers’ row.” Moreover, this veteran lineup is not only unlikely to leave any stone unturned, but is equally as unlikely to have yet reached its peak membership.

[Featured Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]