Maria Butina’s lawyer didn’t disclose involvement with Mueller’s investigation

In multiple appearances on Fox News, Robert Driscoll didn't mention his work with the Mueller investigation once.

Robert Driscoll, lawyer for Maria Butina, has been embroiled in yet another controversy about his lack of disclosure. CREDIT: FOX NEWS
Robert Driscoll, lawyer for Maria Butina, has been embroiled in yet another controversy about his lack of disclosure. CREDIT: FOX NEWS

While Robert Driscoll may not be a household name, few people in Washington are as connected to the numerous threads comprising the investigation into Russian interference as he is — a fact he routinely fails to mention while appearing on cable news programs.

Driscoll, the former chief of staff in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, is currently representing alleged Russian spy Maria Butina, who has been accused of infiltrating the National Rifle Association (NRA). A few years prior, Driscoll also signed lobbying documents relating to lobbying efforts on behalf of Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch now sanctioned by the United States government.

But ThinkProgress has learned from Driscoll that he was also professionally involved in another aspect of the probe into alleged Russian meddling: the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into the relationship between Russian officials and members of the Trump presidential campaign.

The work itself isn’t controversial, as Driscoll was simply working as a lawyer on behalf of a client involved in the Mueller investigation. However, Driscoll — who did not share with ThinkProgress the identity of his client — appeared multiple times on Fox News in the months afterward to discuss the Mueller investigation and questions about Russia and the Trump campaign, without ever disclosing the fact that he had represented a client before the same investigation.

Driscoll had already found himself in hot water for failing to tell Fox News about his work with Butina. When the revelations were first reported by NPR last month, Driscoll defended his lack of disclosure by claiming that no conflict existed. Driscoll said that since Butina is being prosecuted by the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia — and not Mueller’s office — he wasn’t obligated to disclose the relationship.


That defense falls apart given the fact that Driscoll actually worked directly for a client involved in Mueller’s investigation. As Driscoll wrote in an email to ThinkProgress, “[I]ronically I did represent a client before the Special Counsel’s office,” adding that his work took place “last fall/winter[.]” Driscoll declined to offer any more details of his work in front of Mueller, but said that the “witness was not viewed as favorable to President Trump.”

The judge presiding over the Butina case recently imposed a gag order on the lawyers involved, specifically pointing to Driscoll, whom she said had “crossed the line” regarding his constant media appearances. As the judge said, “Your work defending your client needs to happen in this courtroom, not on the public airwaves.”

As ThinkProgress detailed last month, those media appearances include numerous segments on Fox News, where Driscoll has appeared multiple times since “last fall/winter” to discuss the Mueller investigation. None of those appearances disclosed Driscoll’s work in front of the Mueller investigation.

Neither Fox News nor Driscoll responded to ThinkProgress’ questions about whether Driscoll disclosed his work with the Mueller investigation to Fox News.

In one appearance discussing the Mueller investigation on Fox News’ Cavuto Coast to Coast in May, Driscoll said, “There’s no question that staying silent is the smart move.” At this point, Driscoll appears to be taking his own advice.