Who Is Robert Mueller?

Updated on February 2, 2018
Stephen Sinclair profile image

Stephen Sinclair is a freelance Canadian writer who has been publishing professionally for several years.

Former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden with Kathryn Ruemmler, former Counsel to the president, and former FBI Director Robert Mueller, on July 20, 2012.
Former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden with Kathryn Ruemmler, former Counsel to the president, and former FBI Director Robert Mueller, on July 20, 2012. | Source

'Dueling statements'

In May 2017, Robert Mueller III was appointed by U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as special counsel in charge of an investigation into "ties between President Trump’s campaign and Russian officials," as reported by The New York Times.

Previously, Mr. Mueller was the second longest-serving FBI director. He was appointed by former President George W. Bush, in 2011, and served until 2013, after former President Barack Obama extended the standard 10-year FBI director term, by two years.

A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Virginia School of Law, the 73-year-old attorney was awarded both the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his service with the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, as reported by Biography.

Since being named special counsel, Robert Mueller's investigation has been a constant topic of conversation among U.S. lawmakers, media outlets, and citizens. While the exact purview of the FBI investigation remains classified, observers are able to glean seemingly relevant details by its members' actions and those of people who have interacted with them.

For example, The New York Times is reporting that the investigation is now focusing on "dueling statements" released on July 8, 2017. One, in the name of Donald Trump Jr., was put out after allegedly being hastily "cobbled" together by a group that included President Trump, himself. The second was released by Mark Corallo, a former White House legal spokesperson, who, "along with the rest of the president's legal team, was not consulted about Donald Trump Jr.'s statement before it was released."

Mr. Corallo is said to have agreed to be interviewed by Robert Mueller's team. The Times reports that Corallo intends to tell the investigators about a conference call that occurred between himself, Trump, and White House Communications Director Hope Hicks.

During the conference call, Hope Hicks is said to have referred to emails written by Donald Trump Jr., where "he was eager to receive political dirt about Mrs. Clinton from the Russians" and have stated that they "will never get out."

The "cobbled" together Donald Jr. statement, claims that his June 2016 meeting with "a Russian lawyer who has connections to the Kremlin" was about an "adoption program," as reported by The New York Times.

The "dueling statements" came into play when Corallo, unaware of Donald Jr.'s statement, told Circa that the meeting was about "Russian policy."

Donald Trump Jr. emails 'will never get out'

Trump Jr. statement made in response to 'New York Times' questions

The Times has since reported that Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with the Russian lawyer was actually to receive "damaging information about Hillary Clinton" and noted that both his and Corallo's accounts withheld their "true purpose."

The legal spokesperson was reportedly left with "concerns that Ms. Hicks could be contemplating obstructing justice."

A lawyer representing Hope Hicks, Robert P. Trout, addressed Mark Corallo's assertions.

"As most reporters know, it’s not my practice to comment in response to questions from the media. But this warrants a response. She never said that. And the idea that Hope Hicks ever suggested that emails or other documents would be concealed or destroyed is completely false."

The Donald Trump Jr. statement was said to be a response to a list of 14 questions submitted by The New York Times, after the publication began "preparing a story revealing that the meeting with the Russians had taken place, and asked the White House for more information about its purpose."

Said to have been drafted by the president and Hope Hicks aboard Air Force One with Donald Trump Jr. and his attorney, Alan Garten, communicating from New York City by text message, a "fierce debate" over how much information the statement should contain was reported to have taken place.

Quite different than the adoption program professed to be the true object of the meeting attended by Trump Jr., Mark Corallo inserted the idea that "Democratic operatives" may have been behind it.

"It was a short introductory meeting," the Donald Trump Jr. statement reads. "I asked Jared and Paul to stop by. We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at that time and there was no follow up."

Conversely, Mark Corallo "suggested that the meeting might have been set up by Democratic operatives, connecting one of the Russians in the meeting, Natalia V. Veselnitskaya, to the research firm that helped produce an unverified dossier that contained salacious allegations about Mr. Trump’s connections to Russia."

© 2018 Stephen Sinclair

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