Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election is an all-consuming affair in which nearly 20 prosecutors, with a broad mandate, are trying to determine whether anyone on President Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with the Kremlin.
For some lawyers working on Mueller’s select team, life—that is, other cases—must go on.
That was true Monday for U.S. Justice Department appellate lawyer Adam Jed, who took a break from his detail on Mueller’s team to appear before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in a case without a Russia connection.
In June, Jed filed an amicus brief for the Justice Department in a whistleblower’s case that alleged JPMorgan Chase & Co. violated the terms of a multibillion-dollar settlement over the mortgage crisis.
The Justice Department took no position on the underlying claims in the False Claims Act lawsuit, instead weighing in on a procedural question about the steps to enforce any noncompliance with the 2012 settlement. Jed argued in the brief that U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer of the District of Columbia had improperly dismissed the whistleblower’s case. Covington & Burling partner Robert Wick argued for JPMorgan.
A three-judge D.C. Circuit panel only briefly questioned Jed, who reiterated Monday he was arguing only on a “narrow legal question.” The government did not intervene on behalf of the whistleblower in the trial court. Jed’s appearance in front of the panel lasted less than 10 minutes.
Jed, after Monday’s D.C. Circuit hearing wrapped up, declined to discuss his work in the JPMorgan litigation and his role on Mueller’s team.
On Mueller’s team, Jed is not alone juggling the Russia investigation with other duties from his day job. Michael Dreeben, an appellate attorney on detail from the U.S. Solicitor General’s Office, has retained “certain responsibilities as deputy solicitor general to ensure continuity of representation of the United States in the Supreme Court,” said Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel’s office.
Another lawyer from the Solicitor General’s Office, Elizabeth Prelogar and Scott Meisler, an appellate lawyer from the criminal division, have also retained their responsibilities from respective units inside the Justice Department.
Monday’s hearing provided Jed his latest trip to Washington’s federal trial court. He accompanied fellow members of Mueller’s special counsel team, including Andrew Weissmann, in September. Weissmann, on a detail from his post as the chief of the Justice Department’s criminal fraud section, is part of the team leading the case against Paul Manafort, formerly the Trump campaign chairman.
Mueller’s probe has revved up in recent weeks amid the filing of charges against Manafort and his associate Rick Gates. The two have pleaded not guilty.
Meanwhile, Mueller’s office has continued to scrutinize the dealings of Mike Flynn, the former national security adviser who was fired just weeks into the Trump administration for failing to disclose past conversations with Russian officials.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Mueller’s team was investigating an alleged proposal under which Flynn and his son would receive up to $15 million in exchange for delivering a Muslim cleric to Turkey. The report drew a rare public rebuke from Flynn’s attorney, Covington & Burling partner Robert Kelner: “Today’s news cycle has brought allegations about General Flynn, ranging from kidnapping to bribery, that are so outrageous and prejudicial that we are making an exception to our usual rule: they are false.”
So far, none of the public-facing charges or other action has reached the D.C. Circuit, where Jed has regularly represented federal agencies in disputes over the years. He was on the team, for instance, that represented the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services in religious challenges to the Affordable Care Act.