White House Close to Ending Mueller Probe Backlog

  • Some document requests have been outstanding for months
  • Prosecutor asked for information on Flynn, Comey firings

Why Robert Mueller Is the Perfect Man for the Job

The White House expects soon to clear a backlog of requests for documents and information from special counsel Robert Mueller related to his investigation of Russian tampering with the 2016 U.S. election, according to two people familiar with the investigation.

While Mueller may make additional requests from the White House as the probe proceeds, his existing demands largely should be met as soon as this week, the people said. Mueller has been seeking documents from the White House for months on a range of issues, including Donald Trump’s firings of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and FBI director James Comey, as well as the preparation of a public statement related to a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer. 

The response to Mueller’s requests was slowed because few staffers were assigned to the task, said another person familiar with the process, who like the others discussed the matter on condition of anonymity. Ty Cobb, a lawyer hired to focus on the investigations, initially received no assistance from the office of White House Counsel Don McGahn -- who’s expected to be a witness in Mueller’s inquiry. After pressing White House Chief of Staff John Kelly for staffing help, Cobb eventually got some assistance from McGahn’s office and a budget to hire his own staff, one of the people said.

McGahn had initially refused Cobb’s request to use several attorneys on his staff because those lawyers were also potential witnesses in the investigation, one person said. William Burck, a lawyer for McGahn, said his client hasn’t tried to block Cobb’s efforts.

Cobb has sought to wrap up the White House’s side of the investigation as soon as possible in the hope of bringing the probe to an earlier conclusion, another person said.

A large firm would typically have dozens of lawyers and support staff working to respond to an investigation of similar scope, but Cobb has seven people, including two working part time and another two focused just on information technology issues, that person said.

Mueller has assembled a team of at least 16 attorneys, though not all are focused on the White House end of the investigation.

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