Mueller Expands The Witch Hunt

Time to put up or shut up -- and shut down.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is planning to expand his witch hunt. According to a Bloomberg News report, he is “tapping additional Justice Department resources for help with new legal battles as his year-old investigation of Russian interference with the 2016 election continues to expand.” He already has 17 prosecutors on his staff, many of whom have clear anti-Trump biases. From the investigation’s start in May 2017 through March of this year, Mr. Mueller’s own office has spent $7.7 million, on top of the $9 million spent by permanent Department of Justice units involved in the investigation.  Mr. Mueller evidently wants to absorb some of the career prosecutors from the offices of U.S. attorneys and from Justice Department headquarters into his own operation or to outsource some of his work to them. Either way, instead of finishing his investigation “the hell up because this country is being torn apart,” as Republican Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina told Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein during a June 28 hearing, Mr. Mueller is busy growing his empire. The Justice Department has “reportedly budgeted $10 million for Mueller’s team to spend in the next fiscal year, which begins in October,” Time Magazine reported.

The Mueller probe is over a year old. The Special Counsel’s office has shown nothing to the taxpayers funding its operation that it has made any real progress in fulfilling its original mandate to uncover evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. The most significant indictment to date, the one against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, is a ridiculous sideshow involving accusations that have nothing to do with the Trump campaign. While Judge T.S. Ellis III, of the Eastern District of Virginia, denied Mr. Manafort’s motion to dismiss an indictment against him on the grounds that Special Counsel Mueller had exceeded his authority, the judge questioned the objectivity of the whole Mueller enterprise. Judge Ellis expressed concern about “the danger unleashed when political disagreements are transformed into partisan prosecutions.” The judge further warned, “To provide a special counsel with a large budget and to tell him or her to find crimes allows a special counsel to pursue his or her targets without the usual time and budget constraints facing ordinary prosecutors, encouraging substantial elements of the public to conclude that the special counsel is being deployed as a political weapon.”

Mr. Mueller and his merry band of Trump-haters are preparing the groundwork for, at minimum, a highly critical report that will be used as “a political weapon” by Democrats and the anti-Trump media to try and bring the president down. They are salivating at the prospect of impeachment proceedings, particularly if Democrats regain the majority in the House of Representatives.  It is a distinct possibility that the Mueller team is planning an “October surprise” shortly before the November midterm elections by issuing a highly critical report that could provide enough additional impetus for tipping the balance of power in the House, and possibly even the Senate, in the Democrats’ favor. If so, Mr. Mueller would be following in the footsteps of Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh. After investigating the Iran-Contra scandal for several years, Mr. Walsh waited until October 30, 1992, just days before the presidential election, to indict former Reagan defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger on one count of making false statements. Bob Dole called the indictment “the straw that broke the camel’s back” of George H.W. Bush’s re-election hopes against Bill Clinton. Bob Dole added that Mr. Walsh’s operation consisted of a “hotbed of Democratic activist lawyers.” Sounds just like the Mueller team today.

Indeed, the Mueller investigation has been contaminated from the start by political bias that took root even before Mr. Mueller’s appointment as Special Counsel. Department of Justice Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz’s 500 plus-page report, released last month, criticized the conduct of Special FBI agent Peter Stzrok and Lisa Page, an attorney who has since left the FBI. They had exchanged text messages sharply critical of Mr. Trump before and after the election. Strzok played a major role in the FBI investigation and exoneration of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server for government e-mails while she served as Secretary of State, as well as in the initiation of the FBI investigation of allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The smoking gun uncovered by Inspector General Horowitz was the following text message on August 8, 2016, in which Strzok reassured Page that she need not worry about Donald Trump becoming president. Trump is “not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” Page texted Strzok.  “No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it,” Strzok responded. Mr. Horowitz wrote that this exchange was “not only indicative of a biased state of mind but, even more seriously, implies a willingness to take official action to impact the presidential candidate’s electoral prospects.

Strzok operationalized his anti-Trump animus by prioritizing the Russia collusion investigation while helping to deep-six the Hillary Clinton investigation. Moreover, we know that leaders near the top of the Department of Justice and FBI hierarchies misused their authority for political reasons to obtain a secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court order to spy on at least one former Trump campaign official, Carter Page. They failed to disclose to the FISA court that the unsubstantiated dossier compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, used as a justification for the warrant order, had been paid for by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. The Mueller team is feeding off the fruits of a poisoned tree.

The Mueller team, largely consisting of Democratic partisans, also appears to have engaged in some shady practices of its own. For example, it withheld potentially exculpatory evidence from the defense related to former National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s case in which he pleaded guilty, until ordered to do so by a federal judge. 

In sum, Robert Mueller is seeking to perpetuate his tainted investigation in search of crime – any crime, whether or not having any relationship to the allegation of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia – that would justify its expanding budget and staffing. For the sake of the country, it is time for Mr. Mueller to either put up or shut up and move to shut down his operation immediately.