by WorldTribune Staff, October 23, 2017
Andrew Weissmann, who is spearheading special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into one-time Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, bent or broke the rules in pursuing the Enron case to gain convictions which were subsequently reversed, defense attorneys say.
But that checkered track record has not impeded his rise at the Department of Justice.
Defense attorneys in the Enron case say Weissmann “intimidated witnesses by threatening indictments, created crimes that did not exist and, in one case, withheld evidence that could have aided the accused,” Rowan Scarborough wrote in an Oct. 22 report for The Washington Times.
Sidney Powell, a Dallas lawyer who took the appeal of a Merrill Lynch figure, told The Washington Times that “All of the cases Weissmann pushed to trial were reversed in whole or in part due to some form of his overreaching and abuses. The most polite thing the Houston bar said about Weissmann was that he was a madman.”
The special counsel’s office declined to comment to The Times about Weissmann’s track record.
The Justice Department in 2012 and 2013 defended Weissmann against ethics complaints and concluded he did not violate the rules.
Dan Cogdell, who represented three Enron defendants, said Weissmann is “the most aggressive prosecutor I’ve ever been up against. He is, if not win at all cost, he’s win at almost any cost.”
“At one hearing, an incredulous district court judge looked down at an Enron defendant and told him he was pleading guilty to a wire fraud crime that did not exist.”
Tom Kirkendall, a Houston lawyer who represented an Enron executive said “Weissmann seemed more interested in obtaining convictions than in promoting justice.”
Weissmann also went on to get convictions against two Enron clients: accounting giant Arthur Andersen which was forced out of business and executives at banking dynamo Merrill Lynch.
The Supreme Court, in a 9-0 vote in 2005, overturned the Andersen conviction. A year later, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals erased all the fraud convictions against four Merrill Lynch managers.
“People went off to prison for a completely phantom of a case,” said Kirkendall.
“Do not misunderstand my disdain for him with ineffectiveness or something not to be concerned with,” said Cogdell. “He’s a formidable prosecutor. If I’m Donald Trump and I know the backstory of Andrew Weissmann, it’s going to concern me. There is no question about it.”