A top Robert Mueller prosecutor who handled Michael Flynn’s guilty plea has left the special counsel’s office amid growing signs that the Russia investigation is nearing its end.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Zainab Ahmad “has concluded her detail” under Mueller “but will continue to represent the office on specific pending matters that were assigned to her during her detail,” said Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel.
Yahoo News first reported Ahmad’s departure.
Ahmad, an expert in international criminal and terrorism cases, is the third senior member of Mueller’s team whose plans have been confirmed in recent weeks to leave the team investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Carr last Thursday confirmed that deputy special counsel Andrew Weissmann planned to end his detail to Mueller’s office “in the near future.” And the FBI said earlier this month that David Archey, its senior legal special agent on the Mueller probe, had already reported to a new job leading the Richmond, Va., field office.
Neither Mueller nor his Justice Department supervisors have said anything official about the conclusion of the special counsel’s investigation. But the clues continue to pile up that at least the most high-profile parts of Mueller’s work are done and that his final confidential report will soon be transmitted to Attorney General William Barr.
Last week, the former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort got the second of two prison sentences — resulting in a total of 7.5 years in prison — for a series of financial fraud, obstruction and conspiracy crimes. Weissmann played a lead role on the Manafort case.
As for Flynn — President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser, who was fired for misleading administration officials about his contacts with the Russian ambassador — Mueller’s office last week also told a federal judge that he might still be called to testify this summer in the government’s trial against his former business partner on charges of failing to disclose foreign lobbying on behalf of Turkey. But in the same court filing it also noted that Flynn’s cooperation with the Mueller investigation was “otherwise complete.”
Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about his contacts but hasn’t yet been sentenced.
Ahmad worked on the Flynn case with Brandon Van Grack, another national security division specialist who stepped back from his full-time Mueller duties last fall and was recently tapped to head up a new Justice Department effort focusing on enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. That World War II-era law was used to prosecute both Manafort and Flynn, and department officials say the decision to focus on it stems from events tied to the 2016 presidential election.
Ahmad is also listed on the docket representing the special counsel’s office in a mysterious grand jury subpoena fight involving an unnamed state-owned foreign company that is now before the Supreme Court.