The Trump administration is exploring whether it can use an obscure ethics rule to undermine the special counsel investigation into ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russia, two people familiar with White House thinking said on Friday. Trump has said that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s hiring of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead the investigation “hurts our country terribly.”
Within hours of Mueller’s appointment on Wednesday, the White House began reviewing the Code of Federal Regulations, which restricts newly hired government lawyers from investigating their prior law firm’s clients for one year after their hiring, the sources said. An executive order signed by Trump in January extended that period to two years.
Mueller’s former law firm, WilmerHale, represents Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who met with a Russian bank executive in December, and the president’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who is a subject of a federal investigation.
The Justice Department, which appointed Mueller, can waive the ethics rule.