The Democrats have managed to pressure Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein into appointing former FBI Director Robert Mueller as Special Counsel to handle the Russian Investigation.
My question is – other than being a pressured response to external political forces – why?
There is no evidence of collusion between President Trump and the Russian Government. None.
This has been repeatedly – although reluctantly – stated by senior Democrats like Dianne Feinstein. Feinstein is the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee and a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. She has access to the best levels of information. Here is her May 18th, 2017 exchange with Wolf Blitzer of CNN:
Wolf Blitzer: “The last time we spoke, Senator, I asked you if you had actually seen evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, and you said to me — and I’m quoting you know — you said, ‘Not at this time.’ Has anything changed since we spoke last?”
Dianne Feinstein: “Well, not… no, it hasn’t. So, I would depend on this investigation that we’re talking about, that would bring forward any criminal activity, and, of course, has the right and the ability to charge people, select targets, look at them, bring about an indictment. And so, it’s a very big investigation, and I think somebody that’s as sophisticated as Bob Mueller is really the one to carry it out and see that it does not go awry, it does not overreach, but it’s what it should be.”
Wolf Blitzer: “So far, you have not seen any evidence of collusion, is that right?”
Dianne Feinstein: “Well, evidence that would establish that there’s collusion. There are all kinds of rumors around. there are newspaper stories, but that’s not necessarily evidence. And so, you’ve got the Intelligence Committee looking at it, and you will have the Mueller investigation going on, and it’s the Mueller investigation that would bring forward solid evidence on which you could base a criminal case and indict someone.”
Even Obama’s former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper stated, under oath, that he had seen no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
Recall the highly politicized attack on Attorney General Jeff Sessions which led to his recusal from the Russian Investigation. Session’s recusal was the Left’s goal. And the first step in appointing an outside investigator.
And so we have a Special Counsel – not Prosecutor – thank god. Special Prosecutors have absolutely zero accountability and represent unfettered power. Special Counsels have at least some accountability to the DOJ and to a lesser extent Congress. They can also be fired by the Attorney General for “misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or for other good cause, including violation of Departmental policies”.
But again, based on what reason?
I covered the accusations made against President Trump in Leakers, MSM Hysteria & Trump’s Middle East Mission but here’s the short version.
The first accusation from the Washington Post – that Trump leaked classified intelligence to the Russian Ambassador – is the least serious. For starters, a president can declassify intelligence at will. In this case, the threat posed by laptop bombs on airplanes. As noted by National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster:
“The president and the foreign minister reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries, including threats to civil aviation. At no time, at no time, were intelligent sources or methods discussed. And the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known.”
The second accusation came from the New York Times. It claimed that President Trump pressured FBI Director James Comey to end the Flynn Investigation. According to the Times, President Trump said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
There are five problems with this memo. First, even if fully true, it does not rise to the level of Obstruction of Justice. You can read the actual statute 18 U.S.C. 1503 here and an analysis by Jonathan Turley, Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University here. Second, interim FBI Director Andrew McCabe testified under oath that “there has been no effort to impede our investigation to date”. If Director Comey felt pressured, why did he not inform his replacement – a replacement who had been his second in command. Third, Director Comey did not notify the Justice Department nor any of the actual agents conducting the Russian/Flynn investigation of his alleged “concerns”. What could be more relevant to an investigation than efforts to influence that investigation? Fourth, Comey apparently wrote the memo on February 14th – immediately after the meeting with President Trump – and the day after Flynn resigned. Yet the FBI seemingly had cleared Flynn back in January. From the Washington Post on January 23, 2017:
“The FBI in late December reviewed intercepts of communications between the Russian ambassador to the United States and retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn — national security adviser to then-President-elect Trump — but has not found any evidence of wrongdoing or illicit ties to the Russian government, U.S. officials said.”
Fifth, and perhaps most importantly, Director Comey testified, under oath, before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 3, 2017, that his agency had not been pressured by the Trump Administration:
HIRONO: “So if the Attorney General or senior officials at the Department of Justice opposes a specific investigation, can they halt that FBI investigation?”
COMEY: “In theory yes.”
HIRONO: “Has it happened?”
COMEY: “Not in my experience. Because it would be a big deal to tell the FBI to stop doing something that — without an appropriate purpose. I mean where oftentimes they give us opinions that we don’t see a case there and so you ought to stop investing resources in it. But I’m talking about a situation where we were told to stop something for a political reason, that would be a very big deal. It’s not happened in my experience.”
If Director Comey truly felt he was being pressured by President Trump – or any in the Trump Administration – he had a legal duty to report his concerns to the DOJ. He did not do so.
I’ve tried to find specific legal reasons why a Special Prosecutor should be appointed and I have been unable to find any. This appointment appears to be completely of a political nature. Representative Jason Chaffetz appeared to agree in an appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight:
“Where is the actual crime that they think they need a special prosecutor to prosecute?” Chaffetz asked host Tucker Carlson. “I haven’t seen that.” [I’ve] “not seen any evidence of actual collusion” that would require Mueller’s appointment.
Nevertheless, a Special Counsel is now with us. I agree with Charles Krauthammer. This is likely good for President Trump in the short-term and less so in the long-term. Investigations like this have a way of spinning out of control and there is always pressure to find someone guilty of something.
At the same time, I have noticed a significant backpedaling by Democratic leaders. Both Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff have thrown cold water on the notion of impeachment. My guess is Mr. Mueller would not be their first choice for Special Council. While I am not in favor of the appointment it may be that it is Democrats who come to rue Robert Mueller’s new role.
There are certainly some items for him to look into.
Obama engaged in a litany of activities that call for some sort of investigation.
The actions taken by his Justice Department alone warranted a Special Counsel – the IRS scandal, the Fast & Furious gun running, the surveillance and wiretapping of reporters, the DOJ Slush Fund contributions to activist groups.
Then there was the Stuxnet Scandal – a series of national intelligence leaks from the Obama Administration described by Senator Feinstein as the “worst I’ve ever seen”. Bipartisan calls for a Special Counsel were ignored.
Obama’s disastrous Iranian Nuclear Deal allowed Iran to rise from near-economic ruin to a Middle East powerhouse almost instantaneously. It also generated the release of 21 suspected spies and utterly gutted an ongoing Counterproliferation Initiative – erasing years of investigative work into Iran’s nuclear and conventional weapons programs.
And lest anyone forget, Obama made public statements prejudicing the Hillary FBI investigation that were more direct than any comment Trump was said to have made to Comey.
Finally, we still have the entire issue of surveillance and unmasking by the Obama Administration. This issue has quieted down but has not gone away. I think much remains to be revealed. I have discussed this matter in three related articles here, here and here.
The many scandals of Ms. Clinton are equally deserving of attention.
Hillary Clinton’s handling – or mishandling – of classified emails and her lies about them, demand not just investigation but prosecution. Then we have the underlying reason Hillary scrubbed her server of all emails in the first place – the Clinton Foundation – which was created as a blatant pay for play scheme. And tied directly into her actions in the Uranium One Deal. A deal which netted her Foundation $145 million while the United States saw a fifth of its uranium supply get transferred to Russia. And of course, we have the litany of ugly details revealed in the Wiki Leaks email dump.
Speaking of Ms. Clinton, there was another interesting exchange that took place during Comey’s May 3rd testimony:
GRASSLEY: Okay, moving on to another subject, the New York Times recently reported that the FBI had found a troubling email among the ones the Russians hacked from Democrat operatives. The email reportedly provided assurances that Attorney General Lynch would protect Secretary Clinton by making sure the FBI investigation “didn’t go too far.”
How, and when, did you first learn of this document? Also, who sent it and who received it?
COMEY: That’s not a question I can answer in this forum, Mr. Chairman, because it would call for a classified response. I have briefed leadership of the intelligence committees on that particular issue, but I can’t talk about it here.
GRASSLEY: You can expect me to follow up with you on that point.
GRASSLEY: What steps did the FBI take to determine whether Attorney General Lynch had actually given assurances that the political fix was in no matter what? Did the FBI interview the person who wrote the email? If not, why not?
COMEY: I have to give you the same answer. I can’t talk about that in an unclassified setting.
GRASSLEY: Okay, then you can expect me to follow up on that. I asked the FBI to provide this email to the committee before today’s hearing. Why haven’t you done so and will you provide it by the end of this week?
COMEY: Again, to react to that, I have to give a classified answer and I can’t give it sitting here.
GRASSLEY: So that means you can give me the email?
COMEY: I’m not confirming there was an email, sir. I can’t — the subject is classified and in an appropriate forum I’d be happy to brief you on it. But I can’t do it in an open hearing.
That sounds like an investigation worth pursuing. Mr. Mueller might also inquire why the Democratic National Committee refused to allow the FBI to examine their hacked servers…
And I suggest he ask to see all of James Comey’s memos. They might make for some interesting reading.
President Trump answered a question about the appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel:
“I respect the move, but the entire thing has been a witch hunt.”
From everything I can see, the President has a very real point.
And I’m sure it will continue. The fourth branch of our government has exposed itself and is in full revolt.