Although it has been previously reported that most, if not all of the lawyers on Robert Mueller’s team investigating the Russian government’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election have ties to the Democrats and Hillary Clinton, several developments this week have raised further questions about the special counsel’s hiring practices and how that affects the integrity of the probe.
Mueller, the FBI director from 2001 to 2013 and a decorated U.S. Marine veteran of the Vietnam War, is highly regarded among the Washington political establishment, but has not publicly commented about how or why he selected his assistants in the alleged Trump-Russia collusion probe.
For example, a top FBI official fired by Mueller after anti-Trump text messages to a colleague surfaced also played a significant role in other related investigations and is now under scrutiny by the FBI Inspector General.
According to CNN, the text messages “could be interpreted as showing political bias for Hillary Clinton and against President Donald Trump.”
Congress has pressed the FBI to release all the text messages in question.
Fox News reported that the agent, Peter Strzok, allegedly edited the language in ex-FBI Director James Comey’s statement about Hillary Clinton’s private email server from “grossly negligent” — with the attendant legal consequences — to the more benign “extremely careless.” Last July, Comey announced that he would not prosecute the former secretary of state.
Agent Strzok seems to have been everywhere, the Conservative Treehouse claims.
- Peter Strzok was the lead FBI agent in charge of the 2015/2016 Hillary Clinton email investigation.
- Agent Strzok was one of a small group who actually interviewed Hillary Clinton
- Agent Strzok was also the person who interviewed Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, granting them immunity
- Agent Strzok created the wording for the Comey/Clinton exoneration…
- Agent Strzok was also the FBI contact person to receive the Russian Dossier and interview the author Christopher Steele
- Agent Strzok was the person who interviewed National Security Advisor Michael Flynn
According to The Atlantic, none of this was out of the ordinary, however, because Strzok was “a highly experienced counterintelligence agent,” and there is no proof he did anything wrong.
Last Friday, Gen. Flynn pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador during the transition period, i.e., after the 2016 election. The form of post-election outreach is customary in international diplomacy and was routine in prior incoming administrations as well, so it’s unclear why Flynn wasn’t more forthcoming.
Given the recent revelations about the FBI agent who was removed from the Mueller investigation, some have even floated the idea that Gen. Flynn should try to rescind the guilty plea.
Parenthetically, ABC News incorrectly reported that candidate-Trump asked Flynn to contact the Russians, resulting in correspondent Brian Ross being put on a one-month unpaid suspension and being banned from covering stories about President Trump moving forward.
The FBI’s interview with Hillary Clinton in July 2016 wasn’t taped or filmed, no transcript was compiled, and Mrs. Clinton was never put under oath, all of which seem to violate FBI standard procedures
Meanwhile, the federal judge presiding over the Gen. Flynn case has abruptly recused himself, with no explanation, Politico has reported.
In other developments, Andrew Weissman, one of Mueller’s prosecutors, lavishly praised acting Attorney General Sally Yates for refusing to enforce President Trump’s initial travel ban. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that travel ban 3.0 could be fully enforced while lower-court appeals are pending. Weismann also attended Hillary Clinton’s election night party in New York City, the Daily Caller reported.
— Byron York (@ByronYork) December 5, 2017
Another member of Mueller’s team, former Justice Department lawyer Jeannie Rhee, previously represented the Clinton Foundation as a private-practice attorney, and reportedly is an Obama and Clinton campaign donor, the Daily Mail reported.
According to Tucker Carlson, another Robert Mueller attorney represented Hillary Clinton’s IT guy.
Although not part of the Mueller team, a U.S. Justice Department official who worked closely with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the official who appointed Mueller, was reassigned this week allegedly for Russia-related reasons, the Daily Caller reported.
“The Department of Justice has demoted a top official over his contacts with the former British spy who authored the Trump dossier as well as with Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that commissioned the salacious document.”
As the Washington Post reported in October, the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid the former British spy with Kremlin contacts about $9 million for the Russian dossier that seems to have gotten the ball rolling on the collusion allegations in the first place. The FBI also chipped in.
.@GreggJarrett: "Mueller stacked the deck. This is a team of investigators and lawyers that is rife with political prejudice and corrupt motives… Peter Strzok is just the tip of the iceberg here." pic.twitter.com/46pzXV1ly0
— FOX Business (@FoxBusiness) December 8, 2017
The dubious dossier seems to be the key element in this whole controversy, The Federalist noted.
“Yet because of this dossier, and its selective use by intelligence agencies, we have a special prosecutor running a no-holds-barred investigation into Trump that, according to CNN, has gone into areas that have nothing to do with Russia or the 2016 election. We have two congressional investigations into alleged collusion of Trump and Russia. And we have had thousands of stories focused on supporting the Clinton campaign’s opposition research.”
In testimony on Capitol Hill yesterday, FBI Director Christopher Wray refused to answer questions about whether the FBI used the dossier as a pretext for obtaining a FISA warrant to spy on the Trump campaign.
Pro-Trump Congressman Louis Gohmert told Fox News that if that indeed was the scenario, the underlying investigation that led to the special counsel appointment and the probe into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia is or was fundamentally politicized, Breitbart News detailed.
“[W]e need to know, If you took a politically contrived and paid for dossier that ended up being totally false, and you use that as a basis to go to the foreign intelligence surveillance court and get a warrant to survey all members of the opposition presidential election team. If that’s the case, then the FBI has been co-opted and corrupted beyond perhaps even the sorriest days of the FBI’s time when J. Edgar Hoover was wiretapping Martin Luther King.”
Over the years, both sides of the political aisle have leveled criticism at the special counsel process in that the resulting investigations often delve into matters far afield from the original allegations.
The Mueller investigation has spent about $7 million in the first four months of operation, approximately $2 million of which is on salaries and benefits.
“With millions of dollars already spent by Mueller and the legitimacy of the government at issue, we have a right to expect a conflict-free process from all parties. That is why, before we reach any conclusions, we should first publicly resolve any conflicts,” George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley wrote in The Hill about both Trump’s lawyers and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team.
Given the fast moving developments in the Robert Mueller investigation into alleged Russian collusion, particularly in the context of whether it is sufficiently objective, be sure to check back regularly for updates.