(Headline USA) 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 rebuke from Mueller, his first since his July 2019 congressional testimony, follows reports on a book by Andrew Weissmann, due out Tuesday.
Weissmann has remained a source of controversy since serving as one of Mueller’s top deputies.
The partisan operative has become a regular Trump critic on left-wing cable news broadcasts. But after agreeing to headline a Biden fundraiser earlier this year, he was forced to back out over ethical and legal concerns.
Mueller did not specifically mention the book in his statement but stood steadfast behind the decisions that he made as special council on how to run the investigation, which ultimately found no evidence that Trump had colluded with Russian operatives.
“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.
Although Mueller’s report suggested that the president had sought to actively interfere with the probe at times, the fact that there was no underlying crime involved, along with longstanding Justice Department policy, led Mueller to punt a decision to recommend obstruction charges in the politically sensitive matter.
Trump frequently denounced Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt” led by power-hungry partisan Democrats.
“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,” Mueller said in his statement. “I stand by those decisions and by the conclusions of our investigation.”
Some reasonable speculation exists that Weissmann, himself, may soon be angling for a pardon if he is implicated in criminal conduct by the Justice Department’s Durham investigation.
Declassified documents recently revealed that more than 20 members of Mueller’s team either acknowledged wiping their phones or turned in phones with nothing on them.
Both Mueller’s and Weissmann’s phones were empty, while two staffers under Weissmann’s supervision claimed to have accidentally wiped theirs by submitting the wrong password information too many times.
The book by Weissmann, “Where Law Ends,” is the first insider account of the Mueller team’s investigation published by a former prosecutor who was part of it.
Weissmann did not immediately respond to the statement on Twitter.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press.