As End Nears To Mueller Era, D.C. Lawyers Fear Lasting Politicization Of Justice

NPR.org | 3/15/2019 | Staff
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Kevin Downing, Paul Manafort's attorney, leaves federal court after Manafort's sentencing hearing in Washington on Wednesday.

Members of Washington's elite legal community decried the "increasing politicization" of the justice system at a particularly sensitive time: as the special counsel probe of Russian election interference edges toward a conclusion.

Abbe - David - Lowell - Veteran - Cases

Abbe David Lowell, a veteran of high-profile cases who has defended members of Congress and Cabinet officials, lamented that public confidence in the FBI, the Justice Department and the rule of law itself has waned, even as he offered praise for Robert Mueller, the man leading the Russia investigation.

"I don't know of a special counsel who's done it better," Lowell said at an event with other top lawyers on Thursday evening.

Confidence - Career - Servants - Team - Attorney

He added that he also has "great confidence in the career public servants" and the new team, led by Attorney General William Barr, at the Justice Department.

Lowell, who is representing President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, said Mueller had conducted the nearly 2-year-old investigation with great integrity.

Lowell - Matter - Counsel - Determines - Findings

But Lowell also said he worried that no matter what the special counsel determines soon, those findings will be filtered through the political lens of lawmakers in the "big white dome" down the street from the Justice Department.

Members of Congress have battled over the Justice Department and FBI since not long after Mueller's appointment, accusing it of conspiracies and cover-ups. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., renewed his call this week for a second special counsel to look into what he called the department's transgressions.

Lowell - Panelists - Defense - Lawyers - Environment

Lowell and other panelists agreed that defense lawyers themselves also can contribute to the unhealthy and polarized environment.

Their comments followed only hours after an attorney for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort erroneously said that two judges handling his cases had found there was "no collusion" between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Judges

What the judges said was that...
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