A question for Robert Mueller
House Democrats have delayed former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Capitol Hill testimony until July 24 to allow for “expanded questioning.” By this they mean grandstanding, virtue signaling, political posturing and contriving theatrical stunts aimed at resuscitating the discredited “obstruction” claims against President Trump.
The question remains why Mueller should testify at all. There is no chance that he will add anything of substance to the matters already amply explored in the 448-page report on his two-year investigation. There will be no new evidence, no smoking gun, nothing to clarify what has already been made quite clear: there was no collusion, no obstruction.
But clarity is hardly the objective in this political circus. Democrats are bound and determined to muddy the waters to resuscitate the comatose impeachment narrative. And Mueller may be more than willing to help.
Mueller’s last public appearance was his eight-minute public statement on May 29, in which he basically said that Donald Trump must be viewed as guilty unless proven innocent. “If we had confidence the president clearly did not commit a crime,” he intoned, “we would have said so.”
How Trump could, or more importantly would want to, obstruct an investigation where he knew there was no crime seems to have been lost in the scramble to take the president down. And Mueller’s study in ambiguity was so opaque that the Justice Department had to issue a clarification to tamp down speculation that there was rift between the special counsel’s office and the attorney aeneral. Regardless, the statement constituted a bizarre “third bite at the apple” and served, probably intentionally, as a dog-whistle for Democrats to pursue impeachment.
Nothing substantive has emerged in the past few months to shake the “no collusion, no obstruction” conclusion. Yet information has begun to appear that makes the Mueller Report appear to be much more of an anti-Trump political hit-piece than it appeared.
Judicial Watch, through its investigations and litigation, has turned up important exculpatory government records and documents exonerating Trump from the Russia hoax that the Mueller team chose to omit from their report. Judicial Watch has also demonstrated that the investigators were hardly the objective paragons of virtue as portrayed in the media but were a politically biased hit team.
For example, the hiring effort was led by Andrew Weissman, who was enough of a Democratic insider to have been invited to Hillary Clinton’s election night party. He assembled a left-leaning team of investigators who could be counted on to approach the question with the proper “get Trump” attitude. Take, for example Jeannie Rhee, who was working the Papadopoulos case fresh off her previous assignment protecting the Clinton Foundation at the law firm WilmerHale. Each revelation makes the investigation sound more like an inside job.
When Peter Strzok and Lisa Page’s outrageous conduct and flagrant anti-Trump bias became too much for Mueller, he hid the fact from the American people for four months. Meanwhile his office deleted all the text messages they passed while on his team and reformatted their government-issued phones. Maybe Congress should be investigating that obstruction of justice.
Mueller will soon have to face probing questions about his willful blindness, selective investigative focus and history of seeking to cement a legend around dates and persons that fit the collusion/obstruction narrative. He will also have to explain the murky origins of his investigation, rooted in former FBI Director James Comey’s leak of information from Trump’s FBI files to the New York Times through a professor at Columbia Law School.
Mueller could explain why he chose not to announce that his investigators had found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia until after the 2018 midterm elections, even though his team already knew that Russiagate was a hoax.
And even after the midterms, why did Mueller withhold exculpatory evidence from the nine-page charging document filed with the Michael Cohen plea deal?
What about the fact that Carter Page had acted as an informant for the FBI against Russia?
And what of United States District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich’s opinion from July 1, 2019 that Mueller did not establish a Kremlin connection to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), which the report claimed was the Kremlin’s tool social media campaigns seeking to influence the 2016 election?
What about the leaks to the news media, such as when the Washington Post obtained the March 17, 2019 letter critiquing Attorney General William Barr’s summary of the conclusions of the Mueller report?
Then there are the matters of the Clinton-funded Steele dossier, Fusion GPS and its links to the Justice Department and the genesis of the illicit Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants used to spy on the Trump campaign.
Mueller showed a remarkable lack of curiosity about these issues, and for good reason since the truth would have compromised the entire rationale for the continued legal and political harassment of President Trump. This also goes to the bizarre timing of the Mueller testimony, since we are awaiting the soon-to-be-released report from the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General on potential abuse FISA abuse, which is certain to lay these issues bare. In that respect Mueller and the Democrats are wasting their time, because the OIG report will reveal the unprecedented abuse of government power that drove the collusion myth.
In retrospect the most remarkable thing about the Mueller witch hunt is that even with the deck stacked so solidly against him, Trump emerged from the process clean. The Russiagate hoax was so completely lacking in substance (even the manufactured kind) that Mueller couldn’t take Trump down. Congressional Democrats may think that they can somehow manipulate the upcoming hearings to produce a rationale for obstruction charges. But again, how can there be obstruction when there was never a crime? Maybe Mr. Mueller can answer that one.
Chris Farrell is director of investigations and research for Judicial Watch, a conservative nonprofit watchdog based in Washington, D.C.