The federal judge who presided over a case surrounding one of the FBI's most notorious scandals in recent years chided conservative media personalities Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh for trying to tie special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE to the episode.
In an op-ed published by The New York Times on Wednesday, retired U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner rebuffed suggestions by Hannity, Limbaugh and others that Mueller was complicit in the wrongful imprisonment of four men to protect the identity of Whitey Bulger, a former gangster and FBI informant.
Gertner, who presided over a lawsuit brought by two of the imprisoned men and the families of two others who died in prison, wrote that there was no evidence to suggest that Mueller was involved in the scandal.
"I was unsparing in my criticism of the FBI and Justice Department officials who were responsible for this wrongful imprisonment. I named names where the record supported it," she wrote. "I resoundingly condemned the government in an unusual court session in which I read my conclusions."
"Mr. Mueller is mentioned nowhere in my opinion; nor in the submissions of the plaintiffs’ lead trial counsel, Juliane Balliro; nor in 'Black Mass,' the book about Mr. Bulger and the FBI written by former reporters for The Boston Globe."
Mueller served in the U.S. attorney's office in Boston, where the scandal occurred, from 1982 to 1988. He currently serves as the special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, which makes him a popular target in right-leaning media.
Gertner said that Hannity, Limbaugh and others were "simply wrong" in their assertions that Mueller had something to do with the wrongful imprisonment scandal.
"When Mr. Hannity and others say Mr. Mueller was responsible for the continued imprisonment of those four men, they are simply wrong — unless they have information that I, Ms. Balliro, the House investigators and the 'Black Mass' authors did not and do not have," Gertner wrote in the Times.
"If they do, they should produce it. If they don’t, they should stop this campaign to discredit Mr. Mueller."
Fears have been rising among Democrats that President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Twitter's algorithm boosts right-leaning content, internal study finds Ohio Democrat calls Vance an 'ass----' over Baldwin tweet Matt Taibbi says Trump's rhetoric caused public perception of US intelligence services to shift MORE may try to fire Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinWashington still needs more transparency House Judiciary to probe DOJ's seizure of data from lawmakers, journalists The Hill's Morning Report - Biden-Putin meeting to dominate the week MORE, to whom Mueller reports.
Trump sought to allay those concerns on Wednesday.
“They’ve been saying I’m going to get rid of them for the last three months, four months, five months, and they’re still here,” Trump said.