“It just felt like the right moment, in terms of wanting a new challenge,” she said.
Like many of her former Mueller team colleagues who have remained tight-lipped about their work for him, Ahmad declined to discuss her time in the two-year pressure cooker of the special counsel’s office.
“I think that Bob Mueller is an amazing public servant and he assembled a great team who worked incredibly hard, with the highest level of integrity,” she said. “That is something that I hope the American public knows.”
Mueller is scheduled to testify next week to Congress about his investigation — a much-anticipated public hearing that Democrats hope will refocus public attention on President Trump’s conduct.
Ahmad said she had no particular hope or expectation for Mueller’s testimony, and declined to comment when asked if she had any interest in testifying about the investigation.
Ahmad brought to the special counsel experience negotiating with foreign governments to gather evidence and interview witnesses. And she looks to do similar work in private practice.
She said some of her “greatest thrills” as a prosecutor came in securing witnesses or arranging the extradition of foreign terrorist suspects to the United States.
“I really enjoy navigating the divide between countries and cultures and languages and backgrounds, and I hope to do a lot of international work,” she said.
In addition to the probe of Flynn, which led to his guilty plea for lying to the FBI, Ahmad worked on a prolonged subpoena fight with a still-unidentified company controlled by a foreign government. That battle went to the Supreme Court, and in January a judge imposed a $50,000-a-day fine on the firm for not complying with Mueller’s subpoena. Those penalties stopped the following month, when the company turned over nearly 1,000 pages of documents.
Ahmad declined to comment on the case.
She said she would be open to someday going back to work at the Justice Department but had no specific goal to do so.
Ahmad said she’s still adjusting to life after the Justice Department, and after working for Mueller, whose office was so secure it was designated a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF. That meant that when prosecutors showed up for work, they had to check their cellphones at the door. Before joining Mueller’s team, Ahmad spent much of her time as a terrorism prosecutor in the Eastern District of New York inside similarly secure workspaces.
“I have gotten so used to not having my cellphone with me, that now I find it overwhelming to have it with me and be expected to respond to things in a timely manner,” she said. “I miss having the ‘SCIF excuse’ for poor communication.”