WASHINGTON – A Justice Department official described as special counsel Robert Mueller’s “pit bull” is leaving the Russia investigation, signaling that the probe is nearing its end.
Andrew Weissmann will leave the special counsel’s office to study and teach law at New York University, NPR first reported. Weissmann led the prosecution of Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who was sentenced to a total of seven-and-a-half years in prison for financial crimes and work he did for the Ukrainian government.
Weissmann is the best known member of the special counsel’s team other than Mueller himself. Conservatives criticized Weissmann after it was discovered that he attended Hillary Clinton’s party on Election Day 2016. He also met with Associated Press reporters on April 11, 2017 to discuss a case against Manafort. Mueller would not be appointed special counsel until a month later, on May 17, 2017.
Weissmann’s departure is the clearest sign yet that Mueller’s investigation is wrapping up.
News outlets have reported that Mueller & Co. were in the process of writing a final report on the investigation, which looked into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia as well as possible obstruction of justice on the part of President Trump.
Some news outlets have reported that the report would be given to the Justice Department by the middle of March.
Mueller has indicted more than three dozen individuals, including 25 Russian nationals and several Trump associates. But none of the indictments have been for conspiracy between Trump allies and Russians.