Where Law Ends | Andrew Weissmann

Summary of: Where Law Ends: Inside the Mueller Investigation
By: Andrew Weissmann

Introduction

In the book summary, ‘Where Law Ends: Inside the Mueller Investigation’, author Andrew Weissmann takes us through his journey as a federal prosecutor and later as part of the Department of Justice and the Special Counsel that investigated the infamous Russian interference in the 2016 US elections. Learn about Weissmann’s notable cases during his time at the Eastern District of New York and the Enron Task Force, which prepared him for the challenges ahead. Prepare to delve into the realm of the Mueller Investigation, the formation of task forces, the indictment of key figures, and the subsequent misinterpretation of the Special Counsel’s report. Gain insights into the flaws in the current American legal system and the need for stronger checks and balances.

Andrew Weissmann’s Journey to the Special Counsel’s Office

Andrew Weissmann’s accomplished legal career, which included prosecuting prominent members of New York’s crime families and serving on the Enron Task Force, prepared him for his role as a member of the Special Counsel’s Office. Robert Mueller’s appreciation for Weissmann’s Eastern District of New York prosecutorial tenacity cemented their partnership, which served as a crucial tool in investigating the 2016 presidential election.

Inside Special Counsel Mueller’s Team M

Andrew Weissmann leads team M, one of three teams set up by Mueller to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 US election, obstruction of justice, and Paul Manafort’s finances. With Manafort’s extensive political and financial involvement in Russia and Ukraine and Weissmann’s background in fraud investigations, Team M delves into Manafort’s shady dealings. This summary outlines the setup of the special counsel and the key players involved.

The Rise and Fall of Paul Manafort

Paul Manafort, the infamous political lobbyist, had lavish spending habits that raised alarms for FBI investigators. His main benefactors were suspected to be Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and Ukrainian president Victor Yanukovych. Manafort’s close association with Yanukovych during his time in Ukraine, and the dubious political practices of Yanukovych, led investigators to question what lines Manafort was willing to cross. The Department of Justice’s investigation into Manafort’s offshore bank accounts and companies, suspected to be used to launder money and avoid US tax laws, ultimately led to his downfall. The investigations quickly built a case against Manafort, revealing his unethical practices and lack of moral compass.

Manafort’s Illegal Lobbying

Manafort, a former campaign chairman for President Trump, was found guilty of illegal lobbying on behalf of foreign interests. The evidence of his illegal activities came to light when his lobbying efforts for President Yanukovych of Ukraine between 2012 and 2014 were discovered. He had enlisted both a Republican- and Democrat-affiliated lobbying firm to paint a more positive image of Ukraine’s corrupt ruler. However, neither he nor the firms had registered those activities with the Department of Justice’s FARA unit, making it an illegal activity. His illegal lobbying became a crucial piece of evidence in the case against him by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. During a search warrant operation carried out in Manafort’s Virginia condo, significant correspondence detailing his work with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska was also uncovered. This included mentions of briefing the Putin government on his efforts to make Ukraine, Montenegro, and some African countries more welcoming to Deripaska’s business dealings.

Evidence of Obstruction

As the case against Manafort was moving quickly, Team 600 was dealing with the issue of obstruction as it pertained to the firing of James Comey and investigations surrounding Michael Flynn and Russian election interference. Team 600 received evidence in the form of a draft letter announcing Comey’s firing written by Trump and Stephen Miller, which showed that Trump had tried to interfere with the FBI investigation into Flynn and ongoing election interference. While Rosenstein cited Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation as the reason for firing him, the Special Counsel’s office now had an obvious question regarding whether President Trump had fired Comey for more personal reasons.

Trump, Comey, and Russian Interference

The discovery by Team R in late 2017 revealed that Russia launched an unprecedented attack on democracy during the 2016 US election. The Internet Research Agency, funded by Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, used social media to sow disinformation and stoke political divisions, interacting with Americans, including Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Sean Hannity of Fox News, and Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway to aid in Trump’s election. Team 600 confirmed Trump’s decision to fire FBI director Comey before Rosenstein’s recommendation, leading to suspicions of obstruction of justice.

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