- Two prosecutors, including a top computer crimes investigator, have departed special counsel Robert Mueller's team investigating links between Trump associates and Russia, leaving Mueller with 15 attorneys on staff.
- The departures did not have to do with any allegations of wrongdoing or political bias, said a spokesman for the special counsel.
- It was notable when one of the prosecutors, Ryan Dickey, joined Mueller's team in November 2017 because he was the first prosecutor on the team known to specialize in cyber crimes.
Two prosecutors, including an expert in computer crimes, have departed special counsel Robert Mueller's team investigating links between Russia and associates of President Donald Trump, a spokesman for the special counsel confirmed to CNBC Friday.
Ryan Dickey and Brian Richardson appear to have left the team this summer, according to a report by CNN, which first broke the news of the departures. Mueller's team now has 15 attorneys.
The exits did not have to do with any allegations of wrongdoing or political bias, special counsel spokesman Peter Carr said.
The president has regularly berated the special counsel's team of prosecutors, accusing them of being politically biased and conducting an illegal "witch hunt."
In particular, Trump and his allies have gone after Peter Strzok, a former top investigator on the probe, who was removed from the team after Mueller was made aware of anti-Trump texts that Strzok exchanged with a Justice Department lawyer during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The recent departures from the probe, which entered its second year under Mueller's direction in May, show no evidence of the sort of impropriety alleged in the Strzok case.
Dickey will continue to work for the Justice Department, and Richardson has taken a position as a research fellow at Columbia Law School.
It was notable when Dickey joined Mueller's team in November 2017 because he was the first prosecutor on the team known to specialize in cybercrimes. After joining the team, Dickey worked on the two computer crime cases Mueller has brought so far in his probe of Russian election interference.
In February, the special counsel obtained an indictment against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities accused of operating a social media troll farm to meddle in the 2016 election. In July, a grand jury handed up an indictment against 12 Russian nationals accused of hacking into servers belonging to Democrats during the race.
Dickey has not formally removed himself from those cases.
The Washington Post reported in June that Mueller was preparing to hand off some of his prosecutions to the Justice Department. Transferring cases to career prosecutors outside Mueller's office could make it more difficult for the president to end the inquiries by ordering Mueller to be fired.
Richardson formerly worked as a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. He worked on Mueller's prosecution of Dutch lawyer Alex van der Zwaan, who pleaded guilty in February to lying to investigators.