Litigation » Special Prosecutor Could Face ‘Wrinkle’ Over Former Law Firm’s Clients

Special Prosecutor Could Face ‘Wrinkle’ Over Former Law Firm’s Clients

May 21, 2017

Before he was named as special counsel to lead the Justice Department’s investigation into ties between Russia and President Donald Trump’s campaign, Robert Mueller worked at the law firm WilmerHale. Other lawyers at that firm represent former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, Ivanka Trump, and her husband Jared Kushner. That is “a possible wrinkle in all of this,” according to Richard Painter, a University of Minnesota law professor and former White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush. Painter said that lawyers entering federal service would normally be required to recuse themselves from decisions regarding individuals who were represented by the new official’s former firm. “Usually, there would be a one-year cooling off period,” he told Politico. However, Painter said the requirement can be waived by the Justice Department. “I would support them using that authority,” he said. “It doesn’t really make sense for him to oversee one part of the investigation and recuse himself from others. … The real risk here is interference by the White House or by [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions’ appointees, not some issue involving WilmerHale.”

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