Special counsel Robert Mueller did not reveal what motivated him to go before the cameras Wednesday to speak about his Russia investigation, but the foreseeable result was adding fuel to the Democrats’ impeachment fire.
In a move reminiscent of former FBI Director James Comey in July 2016 during the presidential election, Mueller made an explosive allegation strongly suggesting President Donald Trump obstructed justice, then stepped away from the microphone not taking any questions from reporters and further stating his intention not to testify before Congress.
That is a pretty convenient, and seemingly self-serving pronouncement, given the questions Republican members would be sure to ask, such as: Why did you staff your team with only Democrats, including individuals who contributed to Hillary Clinton’s campaign and one who served as a lawyer for the Clinton Foundation?
Another would be: If you were interested in investigating Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 election, why didn’t your team look into the so-called Trump Russia dossier that Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democrat National Committee paid for?
The document was used to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant on Trump campaign associate Carter Page and was fed to the media by its author, former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. The New York Times reported that there is evidence it may have been part of a Russian disinformation campaign.
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Another question worthy of being asked is why Mueller’s report said his team “could not exonerate” Trump on the charge of obstruction.
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What does that mean? In the United States legal system, the presumption is innocence. Either there was evidence to make the case or there wasn’t.
Then, of course, it would be up to Congress to decide whether to take the legal remedy of removal from office. Prosecutors make the case, they do not publicly smear the subjects of their inquiry.
That is exactly the justification former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein used, in part, to recommend the firing of FBI Director James Comey in the spring of 2017.
“Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” Comey said.
Either she violated the law — which, by the way, did not require intent but “gross negligence” — or she didn’t.
The Federalist senior editor Mollie Hemingway cogently observed regarding this Comey-Mueller parallel: “[I]t’s the job of the prosecutor to make decisions about whether crimes were committed. It’s *weird* Mueller didn’t do it. It’s COMEY-like that he didn’t do it. It’s intended to be a smear and is typical of the Comey-style game-playing we saw throughout the Russia hysteria.”
Let’s pause to note Mueller’s extremely close personal relationship and work history with Comey should be viewed by journalists and other observers as worthy of scrutiny given Comey’s role in both the Russia conspiracy theory and the obstruction claims 6/
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) March 25, 2019
She added, “Let’s pause to note Mueller’s extremely close personal relationship and work history with Comey should be viewed by journalists and other observers as worthy of scrutiny given Comey’s role in both the Russia conspiracy theory and the obstruction claims.”
Comey reportedly signed the first FISA warrant application for Page in the fall of 2016 and leaked classified documents to the media after he was fired as FBI director in May 2017.
Shortly thereafter, he testified before Congress he did so in the hopes it would prompt the naming of a special prosecutor.
It cannot be lost that Mueller’s Wednesday statement comes as Washington anticipates the release of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice Michael Horowitz’s report on DOJ’s process used to obtain the FISA warrants to surveil the Trump campaign.
Is Mueller trying to run interference for Comey and his old DOJ and FBI colleagues, including former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe?
It was Hororwitz who uncovered former FBI chief of counterintelligence section Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page’s anti-Trump texts, which also implicated McCabe.
Democrats quickly seized on Mueller’s remarks, with presidential candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker all calling for Trump’s impeachment.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler took on the role of prosecutor, judge and jury definitively pronouncing: “Given that Special Counsel Mueller was unable to pursue criminal charges against the President, it falls to Congress to respond to the crimes, lies and other wrongdoing of President Trump – and we will do so. No one, not even the President of the United States, is above the law.”
While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi added: “The Congress holds sacred its constitutional responsibility to investigate and hold the President accountable for his abuse of power.”
Mueller offered up on a silver platter what the Democrats wanted: to refocus their narrative of Trump being worthy of impeachment and away from the nefarious deeds that took place at the DOJ.
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