So, now Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, is going to look into Donald Trump’s past financial dealings (and his tax returns):
Bloomberg reported Thursday that investigators are examining Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a New York development with Russian associates in SoHo, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s 2008 sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch.
The 2008 sale of a Florida mansion has nothing to do with the original mandate of the investigation to look into the supposed collusion between the Trump team and the Russians in 2016 to “hack” that year’s election. It is another expansion of his jurisdiction, just like Mueller’s investigation of the potential prosecution of ousted National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, and the potential obstruction of justice case involved in the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
Not that anyone in the Washington, D.C. swamp objects to any of this. Instead, they swear, almost in unison, to Mueller’s great honesty and integrity.
But in the real world, where I, and the vast majority of Americans live, the Mueller investigation continues to be suspect.
Consider the following facts:
Mueller’s initial investigation was originally a counter-intelligence investigation, and not a criminal one. This is unprecedented for special counsels. Prior to this, special counsels were only appointed when there were credible allegations about an actual crime. For that matter, if the investigation is (still) centered on counter-intelligence, why is Mueller spending so much time and money recruiting big name attorneys, rather than intelligence experts?
Also, Mueller seems to have a conflict of interest when it comes to James Comey, his successor at the FBI. Mueller and Comey, had a “unique partnership, one of the closest working relationships the top ranks of the Justice Department have ever seen” and Comey sees Mueller as a “close friend and almost mentor.” Their friendship “stretches back over a decade.” They are so close that during George W. Bush’s administration, Mueller threatened to resign if his quasi-protégé was overruled by President Bush. This is a problem because Comey was fired by President Trump, which means that Mueller may have an incentive to go after Trump legally (or in the counter-intelligence matter). This problem seems to violate the conflict of interest rules. This is also a problem because Comey has testified that he manipulated the media and the Justice Department into appointing a special counsel by leaking a memo in the first place.
Another concern is that Mueller has been recruiting an unprecedented “legion” of strongly Democrat lawyers to participate in his investigation of Trump. Keep in mind that he is recruiting these lawyers, not just hiring those who have applied for the job. Yet, so far, he has not recruited a single Republican. In a town like D.C., with thousands of lawyers, at least a third of them Republicans, this seems strange. Further, his organization is far larger than that required by major Justice Department prosecutions involving terror attacks, e.g., the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and some United States Attorneys’ offices in general. Isn’t there an incentive to keep investigating until something is found? He also has an unlimited source of funding. The more he spends, the more likely he will be asked to justify his expenses, which also incentivizes a prosecution on something.
Mueller clearly also has some connections to Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who has such an overwhelming conflict of interest with former NSA Flynn that it reportedly made McCabe’s FBI employees “uncomfortable.” Now, of course, Mueller is investigating the Flynn matter, in which matter McCabe could be called as a hostile witness. Nevertheless, there is no interest in the D.C. swamp in investigating this connection, to make sure Mueller isn’t too close to McCabe.
In the legal realm, the standard is almost always that of the mythical “reasonable person.” The Washington, D.C. swamp may have no problem with the Mueller investigation. But I do, and I suspect most reasonable persons would as well.
It is time for Robert Mueller and his investigation to go.