- The former special counsel Robert Mueller issued a statement Tuesday pushing back on claims his former right-hand man in the Russia probe, Andrew Weissmann, put forth in a newly released memoir.
- Weissmann accused Mueller and his top deputy, Aaron Zebley, of not doing enough to hold President Donald Trump accountable and refusing to take certain prosecutorial steps out of fear that Trump would shut down the investigation.
- "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 his statement.
- Denying allegations that he stood down, Mueller added, "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."
- Mueller also defended Zebley, saying "he was an invaluable and trusted counselor to me from start to finish."
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The former special counsel Robert Mueller issued a rare public statement on Tuesday denying some claims that Andrew Weissmann, his right-hand man in the Russia probe, made in a newly released memoir.
"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 his statement, which was first reported by The Washington Post.
The special counsel's office operated "knowing that our work would be scrutinized from all sides," Mueller's statement continued. "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."
Mueller's statement comes after Weissmann's book, "Where Law Ends: Inside the Mueller Investigation," was released to the public on Tuesday. In the memoir, Weissmann provides a scathing account of the former special counsel, writing that Mueller and one of his top deputies, Aaron Zebley, did not do enough to hold President Donald Trump accountable.
Among other things, Weissmann faulted them for not coming to a decision in the obstruction-of-justice investigation against Trump and for not digging into the president's financial ties.
Zebley, in particular, was wary of taking investigative or prosecutorial steps that would enrage the president, according to Weissmann's book, and the special counsel's office worked in constant fear of being shut down.
Mueller defended Zebley in his statement, saying he was "privy to the full scope of the investigation and all that was at issue" in the case.
He added: "I selected him for that role because I knew from our ten years working together that is meticulous and principled. He was an invaluable and trusted counselor to me from start to finish."
Ultimately, Mueller's team did not find sufficient evidence to charge anyone on the Trump campaign with conspiracy, the special counsel's final report on the investigation said.
Prosecutors reached a murky conclusion on whether Trump sought to obstruct justice throughout the inquiry. Declining to make a "traditional prosecutorial judgment" on whether the president obstructed justice, they emphasized that if they had confidence that Trump had not committed a crime, they would have said so.
Overall, Weissmann wrote that the Russia investigation was hampered by internal strife and a special counsel who held back out of fear that Trump would shutter the office altogether and pardon associates who were charged.
"Like Congress, we were guilty of not pressing as hard as we could" for evidence, he wrote. "Part of the reason the president and his enablers were able to spin the report was that we had left the playing field open for them to do so."
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