With special counsel Robert Mueller’s feverishly anticipated report on the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia expected to drop soon, the front page of Tuesday’s New York Times threw the spotlight (and some air kisses) toward Andrew Goldstein, a prosecutor in Mueller’s office, in “Cautious and Calm Prosecutor Quietly Anchors Mueller Team.”
The routine was always the same. President Trump’s lawyers would drive to heavily secured offices near the National Mall, surrender their cellphones, head into a windowless conference room and resume tense negotiations over whether the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, would interview Mr. Trump.
But Mr. Mueller was not always there. Instead, the lawyers tangled with a team of prosecutors, including a little known but formidable adversary: Andrew D. Goldstein, 44, a former Time magazine reporter who is now a lead prosecutor for Mr. Mueller in the investigation into whether the president obstructed justice.
Reporters Noah Weiland and Michael Schmidt doled out some praise as well for Robert Mueller, the left’s favorite new former FBI director and prosecutor, whose law-and-order persona has become an ironic focus of many left-wing anti-Trump fantasies.
Mr. Mueller is often portrayed as the omnipotent fact-gatherer, but it is Mr. Goldstein who has a much more involved, day-to-day role in one of the central lines of investigation.
Goldstein has conducted every major interview of the president’s advisers, and “was one of two prosecutors who relayed to the president’s lawyers dozens of questions about Mr. Trump’s behavior in office that Mr. Mueller wanted the president to answer under oath....extensive, detailed lines of inquiry that could imperil the presidency.”
The reporters took extra-journalistic pains to frame Goldstein as a quiet hero of justice, responsible and conscientious (in other words, far from the paper’s hostile treatment of Bill Clinton’s special prosecutor, Ken Starr).
Interviews with Mr. Goldstein’s colleagues and friends and an examination of his past work reveal someone profoundly at odds with the cowboylike image Mr. Trump has painted of Mr. Mueller’s team. He is one of the few in the group with a career outside the law -- in addition to working for Time, Mr. Goldstein was a high school teacher -- and is known for his nonconfrontational personality and cautious approach to prosecutions.
The Times twice cited the irrelevant anecdote that Goldstein’s father was a Republican-appointed U.S. attorney, as if trying to strengthen the narrative of Goldstein’s objectivity. Yet an actual partisan Democratic move that Goldstein himself made -- donating to the Obama campaigns -- only got a single mention in contrast.
Before Mr. Mueller hired him, Mr. Goldstein, the son of a former Republican United States attorney, led the corruption unit in the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan as the office made a highly unusual call to announce that it had declined to charge Mayor Bill de Blasio with a variety of crimes. The decision revealed how restrained high-level prosecutors often are in major political investigations.
Defense lawyers who worked with Mr. Mueller also say that Mr. Goldstein -- a donor to President Barack Obama’s campaigns -- is the temperamental opposite of prosecutors on the team like Andrew Weissmann, known for a more hostile disposition. When tensions flared during witness interviews, lawyers would take Mr. Goldstein aside to soothe disputes.
As a toddler, Mr. Goldstein accompanied his father, a Republican appointee, to work, until President Jimmy Carter and the attorney general at the time, Griffin B. Bell, pushed the elder Mr. Goldstein to resign, replacing him with a Democrat. Incensed, he talked with his young children at the dinner table about his dismissal, warning of the perils of a politicized Justice Department.