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Mueller Pushes Back on Criticism       09/30 06:06

   Former special counsel Robert Mueller pushed back Tuesday against criticism 
from one of the top prosecutors on the Russia investigation team that the team 
was not as aggressive as it should have been in probing connections between 
Donald Trump's 2016 campaign and Russia.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Former special counsel Robert Mueller pushed back Tuesday 
against criticism from one of the top prosecutors on the Russia investigation 
team that the team was not as aggressive as it should have been in probing 
connections between Donald Trump's 2016 campaign and Russia.

   The rare public statement from Mueller, his first since his July 2019 
congressional testimony, follows a new book by Andrew Weissmann that contends 
the team did not aggressively pursue certain actions or lines of inquiry out of 
concern that President Donald Trump could fire them and close down the 
operation. That includes issuing a subpoena to Trump to compel his testimony, 
something Mueller's investigators opted not to do. They received written 
answers instead.

   Mueller did not specifically mention the book in his statement, but the 
timing made clear that it was issued in response.

   "It is not surprising that members of the Special Counsel's Office did not 
always agree, but it is disappointing to hear criticism of our team based on 
incomplete information," Mueller said in the statement.

   "The office's mission was to follow the facts and to act with integrity. 
That is what we did, knowing that our work would be scrutinized from all 
sides," he added in the statement. "When important decisions had to be made, I 
made them. I did so as I have always done, without any interest in currying 
favor or fear of the consequences. I stand by those decisions and by the 
conclusions of our investigation."

   Weissmann's book, "Where Law Ends: Inside The Mueller Investigation," is the 
first insider account of the Mueller team's investigation published by a former 
prosecutor who was part of it. Weissmann was one of the prosecutors involved in 
the financial crimes case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

   Weissmann, who before joining the Russia investigation was a veteran Justice 
Department prosecutor with experience going after mobsters and corporate 
executives, has lamented in a series of recent news media interviews that the 
Mueller team did not subpoena the president for an interview or aggressively 
dig into his finances.

   He also has been critical of the Mueller team's final report, saying its 
conclusions were not worded clearly enough, particularly as it relates to what 
he says were Trump's efforts to obstruct the investigation.

   The Mueller team identified significant contacts between Trump associates 
and Russians during the 2016 campaign, but did not allege a criminal conspiracy 
between the two to tip the election. The team's report also revealed multiple 
episodes in which the president sought to stymie the probe, though Mueller did 
not reach a conclusion about whether Trump had broken the law. Justice 
Department policy prohibits the indictment of a sitting president.

 
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