It seems every day we're finding out more about the partisan and conflicted nature of special counsel Robert Mueller's team. Some of the conflicts have been known for months. But others, such as the actions of some FBI investigators on the independent counsel’s team, are just coming to light and further call into question the objectivity and nonpartisanship, and therefore the legitimacy of the investigation.
The text messages between Peter Strzok and his alleged mistress, Lisa Page, from which we’ve learned their general loathing of President TrumpDonald TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe MORE, are perhaps the most troubling. The questions now being raised as to what they meant by an “insurance plan” should Trump be elected require a deeper dive than the recent excuse that it was simply code to hide the affair.
Then we found out that there was a fourth person at the Department of Justice, Bruce Ohr, who was involved with this. He met with Christopher Steele, the author of the controversial dossier, and Glenn Simpson, founder of Fusion GPS and who contracted with Steele to write the dossier. Turns out Ohr’s wife actually worked for Fusion GPS with a specific focus on Trump and the dossier.
Mueller’s has a partisan pack of wolves and an illegitimate investigation. We, of course, have the revelations involving senior prosecutor Andrew Weissmann’s activities around Election Day 2016 and just after President Trump’s inauguration, from attending Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHeller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 MORE’s election night party, to his email to then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, congratulating her on blocking Trump’s travel ban.
We knew Jeannie Rhee represented the Clinton Foundation, and now we discover she also worked for Ben Rhodes, the hyper-partisan former NSA deputy director for President Obama, who in that capacity had access to the Fusion GPS Trump dossier in the late spring of 2016.
Then to put a little bow on the entire partisan package, there is Mueller’s longtime chief of staff, Aaron Zebley, who represented Justin Cooper, the gentleman who set up Clinton’s private email server and then showed real skill with a hammer in smashing some of Clinton’s Blackberries.
For Washington insiders, some of this has been known for months. But most Americans are only just beginning to hear about the conflicts on Mueller’s team and have real questions about how such people with demonstrable partisan bias could somehow actually prove unbiased toward Trump.
There are those who say Mueller’s team is professional, that they’ll only go where the evidence leads. Given what we now know, if anyone wishes to continue making that defense, I’ve got some oceanfront property in Kansas I’d like to sell them.
The Strzok texts — given the role we also know he played in Clinton’s email scandal — raise the specter of a real conspiracy to ensure the Democratic candidate remained in the presidential race.
Ohr’s failure to notify the Department of Justice at any point about his and his wife’s relationships with the target of a congressional investigation and possibly a target of a Department of Justice investigation compares to one of the issues Mueller’s team used to get Michael Flynn to plead guilty: a failure to disclose meetings and relationships to federal authorities.
Factor in those points with the other political ties and activities of Mueller’s team, and we see this goes well beyond standard Washington conflicts of interest.
Lawyers, lobbyists and communications professionals every day withdraw from, or decline to take on, work due to far lesser conflicts of interest with clients. Yet, Mueller’s lawyers and investigators didn’t even attempt to disclose them from the outset, much less bow out of the investigation.
Given all of this, why are people surprised that, in some quarters, Mueller’s efforts now appear to be nothing more than a witch hunt run by a pack of partisan wolves seeking to do nothing less than nullify the 2016 election.
But the questions about Mueller’s team and its motivations are little more than a prelude to the far more important question: Is this entire investigation into the fairytale of Trump-Russia collusion in 2016 even legitimate?
We now know that the Fusion GPS dossier, largely unsubstantiated and really nothing more than news clips, gossip fodder from Reddit and other left-leaning conspiracy sites, and yes, information from either former or current Russian intelligence agents, was paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
That dossier — which somehow ended up in the “top secret” files at both the CIA and FBI, and was used to brief Obama, as well as other senior Obama administration officials — is in many ways the basis for this entire investigation.
Given what we now know, it’s completely fair to ask if an investigation based on false pretenses and a fake dossier funded by Democrats is legitimate.
I’m all for investigating Russian efforts to influence our election. What I’m not for is funding ongoing witch hunts into fairytales of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, which after almost a year and a half into this, not a scintilla of evidence has been unearthed, leaked or confirmed.
Honestly, do we believe that if Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffJan. 6 panel subpoenas four ex-Trump aides Bannon, Meadows Schiff: Criminal contempt charges possible for noncooperation in Jan. 6 probe The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Biden jumps into frenzied Dem spending talks MORE (D-Calif.) had any evidence, he wouldn’t be spending even more time touting it on MSNBC than he already does?
If there is a silver lining to the Mueller mess, it’s allowed us to understand where the real scandals are: The actions of the FBI and the Department of Justice in the use of the Fusion GPS dossier to open their investigations and the role former FBI Director James Comey and his colleague Peter Strzok played in nullifying the Clinton national security investigation, which ensured she remained competitive in the presidential race.
If the Department of Justice or Congress won’t act, the president should jumpstart it by simply ordering all materials related to these investigations be declassified, and allow the American people to decide on their own.
Ned Ryun is a former presidential writer for George W. Bush and the founder and CEO of American Majority. You can find him on Twitter, @nedryun.