by WorldTribune Staff, July 24, 2019
Over Republicans’ objections, Aaron Zebley, a long-time associate of special counsel Robert Mueller, was allowed to sit by Mueller’s side during his congressional testimony on July 24.
Zebley, who served as deputy special counsel under Mueller for the Russia collusion investigation, was not sworn in for questioning before the House Judiciary Committee. He was, however, expected to be sworn in to answer questions before a second hearing later in the day before the House Intelligence Committee, according to The Associated Press.
Zebley represented Justin Cooper, who previously served as an aide to former President Bill Clinton, while working at the WilmerHale law firm. Cooper helped former Secretary of State and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to set up a private email server, which she used for official government communications, including classified material.
In his opening statement on July 24, Mueller said that “Mr. Zebley was responsible for the day-to-day oversight of the investigations conducted by our office.”
The investigation found no collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russia.
President Donald Trump tweeted: “So Robert Mueller has now asked for his long time Never Trumper lawyer to sit beside him and help with answers. What’s this all about? His lawyer represented the “basement server guy” who got off free in the Crooked Hillary case. This should NOT be allowed. Rigged Witch Hunt!”
Zebley has deep ties to Mueller. He worked with Mueller before he became special counsel, most recently working beside him at his former law firm, WilmerHale.
According to a news release from the firm, Zebley joined WilmerHale as a partner in 2014. He focused on cybersecurity and data breach issues, internal investigations, national security matters and cases in which clients were being investigated by government officials.
He left the firm in 2017, when he was tapped to serve on Mueller’s team in the Special Counsel’s Office, according to CNN.
While Mueller was serving as FBI director under President Barack Obama, Zebley worked as his chief of staff, according to The Washington Post. He also served as chief of staff to former FBI Director James Comey, according to WilliamHale.
Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee said allowing Zebley to testify alongside Mueller would violate House rules.
“If true, the chairman’s unprecedented decision to allow a witness’s counsel to both advise him privately and simultaneously testify alongside him shows the lengths Democrats will go to protect a one-sided narrative from a thorough examination by committee Republicans,” Collins said in a statement.
Meanwhile, a defense lawyer is criticizing Mueller for including in his report a citation of a New York Times story about his client that he says is wrong.
The Times story is one of more than 100 news articles Mueller cited in his 448-page report. Republicans say those same media outlets promoted a Trump-Russia conspiracy that didn’t exist.
Reporting for The Washington Times on July 23, security correspondent Rowan Scarborough noted that the February 2018 Times story, “Putin’s Cook,” served as the Mueller report’s evidence that the Russian firm Concord Management and Consulting and its chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin, were in bed with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Prigozhin’s attorney says Mueller used the article to mislead the public into believing that Prigozhin, at Putin’s direction, funded election-year social media disruption in the U.S. by the Internet Research Agency, a troll farm.
“He’s not a chef. He doesn’t even know how to cook,” attorney Eric A. Dubelier said at a May 28 hearing in U.S. District Court for which a transcript was recently unsealed.
A Washington Times review published May 5 found that some of Mueller’s press citations were for stories about Trump-Kremlin intelligence communications that never happened.
Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the ranking Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, has criticized Mueller and his mostly Democrat-aligned prosecutors for relying on liberal media sources.
“The Mueller dossier cites dozens of articles from the reporters and publications that were most responsible for perpetuating the Russia hoax,” Nunes said at a June hearing. “Thus Mueller produced a perfect feedback loop: Intelligence leakers spin a false story to the media, the media publishes the story, Mueller cites the story, and the media and the Democrats then fake outrage at Mueller’s findings.”