Ongoing saga

Meet Rachel Brand, the little-known lawyer who could take over the Trump-Russia probe

Rachel Brand, Associate Attorney General. (REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand was sworn in just a little more than a month ago, but she may soon find herself supervising the ever-incendiary investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.

According to a report by ABC News, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is currently overseeing the special council’s investigation, has told Brand that she will need to take over if he recuses himself from the Russia probe. The investigation has reportedly expanded to include a preliminary inquiry into whether or not President Donald Trump obstructed justice when he fired FBI director James Comey, who was heading the Russia probe.

Because Rosenstein wrote a public memorandum criticizing Comey’s leadership and recommending his termination, he could become a witness in the investigation. Since Rosenstein is supervising the probe, this would create an acute conflict of interest. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has already backed out of the investigation due to his work on Trump’s 2016 campaign.

If the two top players of the Justice Department are unable to oversee the probe, responsibility will fall to Brand, a prosecutor who worked for the George W. Bush administration. According to Politico, Brand was part of the legal team that represented Bush in the 2000 Florida vote recount. She worked as a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, and was later hired to Bush’s Justice Department.

In 2011, Brand began working on regulatory issues for the United States Chamber of Commerce. During her confirmation hearing several months ago, Democrats expressed concerns that Brand was keen to align herself with the large businesses that make up the Chamber, thereby working in opposition to “environmental, consumer and labor regulations protecting the American people,” Senator Pat Leahy said during her nomination.

But Republicans say that criticism is unfair. “When she worked at the Chamber, all her advocacy was done to represent the views of her client,” Senator Charles Grassley, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, told Politico. “If you hire a lawyer, they are going to represent your view.”


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