A veteran federal prosecutor recruited onto special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is known for a skill that may come in handy in the investigation of potential ties between Russia and U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign team: persuading witnesses to turn on friends, colleagues and superiors.
Andrew Weissmann, who headed the U.S. Justice Department’s criminal fraud section before joining Mueller’s team last month, is best known for two assignments – the investigation of now-defunct energy company Enron and organized crime cases in Brooklyn, New York – that depended heavily on gaining witness cooperation.
Securing the cooperation of people close to Trump, many of whom have been retaining their own lawyers, could be important for Mueller, who was named by the Justice Department as special counsel on May 17 and is investigating, among other issues, whether Trump himself has sought to obstruct justice. Trump has denied allegations of both collusion and obstruction.
Weissmann got Andrew Fastow, Enron’s Chief Financial Officer, to flip on Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling, back in 2006. This was partly achieved by bringing charges against Fastow’s wife.
The most notable organized crime case won by Weissman was against Vincent “The Chin” Gigante, the Brooklyn mob boss. He found ways to make co-conspirators flip on him, even though they had taken the ‘Omerta’ oath of silence and non-cooperation.
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