President Trump on Sunday renewed his attacks on the political affiliations of the members of the special counsel team investigating his 2016 campaign for possibly coordinating with Russia, alleging that the group has “13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans.”

“Another Dem recently added…does anyone think this is fair?” Trump wrote on Twitter. “And yet, there is NO COLLUSION!”

[ Trump rails against Mueller investigation, dismisses McCabe’s notes as ‘Fake Memos’ ]

The president is ignoring one important fact: Robert S. Mueller III, who heads the team, is a longtime registered Republican. He was appointed by another Republican, Rod J. Rosenstein, whom Trump nominated as deputy attorney general. But publicly available voter registration information shows that 13 of the 17 members of Mueller’s team have previously registered as Democrats, while four had no affiliation or their affiliation could not be found.

Nine of the 17 made political donations to Democrats, their contributions totaling more than $57,000. The majority came from one person, who also contributed to Republicans. Six donated to Hillary Clinton, Trump’s opponent in the 2016 race.

[ As Mueller builds his Russia special-counsel team, every hire is under scrutiny ]

In the months after Mueller was appointed to lead the investigation, Trump and his supporters had called attention to what they perceived as conflicts among those on the special counsel’s team. In June, Trump tweeted that the probe was “led by some very bad and conflicted people!” and he said on Fox News that “the people that have been hired are all Hillary Clinton supporters; some of them worked for Hillary Clinton.”

The new attacks come in the wake of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe over allegations made by the Justice Department’s inspector general that McCabe authorized an inappropriate disclosure to the media, then misled investigators about it. McCabe had been involved in the Russia probe, and Trump and his attorney seized on his ouster to attack the special counsel.

“The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime,” Trump wrote Saturday night. “It was based on fraudulent activities and a Fake Dossier paid for by Crooked Hillary and the DNC, and improperly used in FISA COURT for surveillance of my campaign. WITCH HUNT!”

A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment for this report. The special counsel team is composed of veteran white-collar lawyers and prosecutors who are among the most respected in the legal world. They have a broad range of experience in fraud, public corruption, cyber and terrorism cases. Legal analysts have said previously that they could see no significant legal or ethical concerns with the team members’ political giving, and they noted that Justice Department policies prohibit discrimination in hiring for career positions on the basis of politics.

[ McCabe is said to have written memos detailing his interactions with Trump ]

Some lawyers, though, said the team’s makeup creates an optical problem for Mueller, as conservatives might not trust what the team ultimately finds, especially with respect to Trump. Mueller’s critics, too, already had ammunition to criticize the investigators as biased, after messages were released showing two top FBI officials involved in the case — agent Peter Strzok and lawyer Lisa Page — exchanged texts disparaging Trump.

The two no longer work for the special counsel. Mueller removed Strzok after the Justice Department’s inspector general found the texts, and Page already had left for what officials said were unrelated reasons. Federal records show that neither Page nor Strzok made any political donations.

Lawyers at the Justice Department — from which Mueller drew the bulk of his team — are generally thought to be left-leaning, while the FBI is generally thought of as a more conservative institution. FBI agents are intimately involved in the work Mueller is doing, though their identities and donation and voter registration histories are not known.

Below is the complete list of the special counsel team members, their donations and the party affiliation noted in their past or present voter registration records.

1) Brian M. Richardson, a former Supreme Court clerk and clerk for a judge serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York City.

No donations.

Voter registration: No affiliation.

2) Ryan Dickey, a lawyer on detail from the Justice Department Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.

No donations.

Voter registration: Democrat.

3) Kyle Freeny, a lawyer from the Justice Department Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section.

Freeny donated $250 to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008, another $250 to Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012 and $250 to Clinton’s campaign in 2016.

Voter registration: Democrat.

4) Scott Meisler, an appellate lawyer from the Justice Department Criminal Division.

No donations.

Voter registration: No affiliation.

5) Zainab Ahmad, a lawyer from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.

No donations.

Voter registration: No affiliation.

6) Greg Andres, a former partner at Davis Polk, a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department Criminal Division and a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York

He donated $2,700 to the campaign of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) this year and $1,000 to the U.S. Senate campaign of David Hoffman (D) in 2009 when he ran unsuccessfully in Illinois.

Voter registration: Democrat.

7) Rush Atkinson, a lawyer from the Justice Department Criminal Division Fraud Section.

He donated $200 to Clinton’s campaign in 2016.

Voter registration: Democrat.

8) Michael Dreeben, an appellate lawyer from the Office of the Solicitor General.

No donations.

Voter registration: Democrat.

9) Andrew Goldstein, a lawyer from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

Goldstein donated $3,300 to Obama’s campaigns in 2008 and 2012.

Voter registration: Democrat.

10) Adam Jed, an appellate lawyer from the Civil Division.

No donations.

Voter registration: Democrat.

11) Elizabeth Prelogar, an appellate lawyer on detail from the Office of the Solicitor General.

She donated $250 each to Clinton’s campaign in 2016 and the Obama Victory Fund in 2012.

Voter registration: Democrat.

12) James Quarles, a former partner at WilmerHale and a former assistant special prosecutor for the Watergate Special Prosecution Force.

He donated more than $30,000 to various Democratic campaigns in 2016, including $2,700 to Clinton, although his giving spans two decades. Quarles also gave $2,500 in 2015 to Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and $250 to Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) in 2005.

Voter registration: Democrat.

13) Jeannie Rhee, a former partner at WilmerHale who has served in the Office of Legal Counsel and as an assistant U.S. attorney in Washington.

Rhee donated a total of $5,400 to Clinton’s campaign in 2015 and 2016, and a total of $4,800 to the Obama Victory Fund in 2008 and 2011. She also made smaller donations totaling $1,750 to the Democratic National Committee and to various Democrats running for Senate seats.

Voter registration: Democrat.

14) Brandon Van Grack, a lawyer on detail from the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

He donated $286.77 to Obama’s campaign in 2008.

Voter registration: Democrat.

15) Andrew Weissmann, a lawyer who headed the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. He has served as general counsel at the FBI and as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

Weissmann donated $2,300 to the Obama Victory Fund in 2008, $2,000 to the DNC in 2006 and $2,300 to the Clinton campaign in 2007.

Voter registration: Democrat.

16) Aaron Zebley, a former partner at WilmerHale who has previously served with Mueller at the FBI and as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia.

No donations.

Voter registration: No affiliation.

17) Aaron Zelinsky, a lawyer on detail from the U.S. attorney’s office in the District of Maryland.

No donations.

Voter registration: Democrat.

Julie Tate and Alice Crites contributed to this report.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2018/03/18/trump-said-muellers-team-has-13-hardened-democrats-here-are-the-facts/

On – 18 Mar, 2018 By Matt Zapotosky

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