Detroit’s top attorney on demo probe appointed to team investigating Trump

Photo by Steve Neavling

The top attorney representing the city of Detroit in an ongoing federal criminal probe into the city’s demolition program has been tapped by special counsel Robert Mueller to help investigate President Trump and his campaign’s alleged ties to Russia.

Jeannie Rhee, a white-collar crime specialist and former senior adviser to former Attorney General Eric Holder, is among 13 attorneys brought on by Robert Mueller, a former FBI director appointed by Trump’s own Justice Department to investigate the president and his campaign. 

It’s unclear whether Rhee’s appointment to the high-powered team of investigators will affect her work for the city, which is the subject of a federal grand jury investigation into Mayor Duggan’s demolition program. 

Rhee is an attorney for the Washington D.C.-based law firm WilmerHale, where Mueller began working in March 2014. 

Records obtained by Motor City Muckraker show Rhee charged the city $760 an hour and received more than $50,000 for approximately 68 hours of work between June 2016 and December 2016. The city’s total legal bill during that period was more than $200,000 for work done by other WilmerHale attorneys and the Michigan law firm Miller Canfield. 

City leaders said this morning they were unaware of Rhee’s appointment and weren’t immediately sure how it would affect her work for the city. 

On Tuesday, Motor City Muckraker revealed that city officials and demolition contractors are the subject of a federal grand jury investigation that began in April.

Rhee, a career litigator, served as deputy assistant attorney general from 2009-11 before joining WilmerHale, where she represented clients involved in municipal litigation.

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Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.