Two weeks ago, on December 1, Special Counsel Robert Mueller seemed to have made a critical breakthrough in his investigation into allegations of collusion between Donald Trump’s election campaign and Russia. As reported by the Inquisitr at the time, Mueller charged Trump’s former national security advisor, General Michael Flynn, with lying to the FBI. Court papers revealed that Flynn had cut a deal with the Mueller investigation, and claimed that he was under orders from a senior member of Trump’s team when he made contact with Russian officials.
It was widely assumed that either Donald Trump Jr. or President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was that senior official and that charges would soon follow. Since then there have been no major news breaks on the Mueller investigation’s next plans, but the investigation itself has come under the spotlight.
As reported by CNN, the Mueller investigation scored a spectacular own goal, which has “muddied Mueller’s path” to President Trump. Within 24 hours of the Mueller investigation charging Flynn, it emerged that two FBI employee’s, agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, had exchanged anti-Trump text messages. The texts were uncovered by an internal investigation looking into FBI activities during the election campaign, specifically in relation to the Hillary Clinton email controversy. It also emerged that a number of FBI investigators had made donations to the Clinton campaign.
These revelations called into question the impartiality of the Mueller investigation and led to claims of bias against Donald Trump. It doesn’t appear that the members of Mueller’s FBI investigation team have done anything wrong. The Hatch Act does restrict the political activities of federal employees. However, federal employees are permitted to the most basic rights of civic participation, such as voting, making political contributions, and expressing individual opinions.
Mueller’s problem isn’t that members of his investigation team did anything wrong. Mueller acted swiftly and decisively by removing Strzok from the team as soon as he was made aware of the text messages. The problem is that revelations could give the appearance of anti-Trump bias, something that the President made use of when he took to Twitter to slam the FBI and claim that the Russia probe is a politically motivated witch hunt.
As reported by NPR, President Trump has attacked the FBI on numerous occasions, recently claiming that the FBI’s reputation was “in tatters.” Trump has publicly called former FBI director James Comey a liar, and of course, he fired Comey earlier this year, reportedly when he refused to “back off” his investigation of Michael Flynn.
As the Press Herald reports, Police and FBI investigators do not live in a political vacuum. Investigators do, of course, have their political views, some will support Trump, others abhor him. You could argue that any Police or FBI officer has a prejudice against criminals. When a case comes to court, there is no consideration of bias against criminals, the only factor that matters is whether investigators have the evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused committed a crime.
That said if you are investigating the President of the United States, in such a politically charged atmosphere, then you need to appear squeaky clean. It remains to be seen whether the claims of bias will hurt the Mueller investigation in the longer term. However, it is against this background that President Trump travels to Quantico today to speak to the latest class of FBI graduates. It should be an interesting meeting.