Wednesday 16th October 2019

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Who Ran The Mueller Investigation?

August 12, 2019 Frontpage No Comments


I’m taking a bit of a vacation this year — most years I don’t — so I’m writing a couple of weeks ahead. Thus, as I write this, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has just finished testifying before two committees of the U.S. House of Representatives. I watched much, if not most, of both hearings. I was appalled.
At the time that Mr. Mueller was appointed special counsel, the Democrats, the media, the progressive left, and nearly anyone sitting in his basement with a tin-foil hat believed — or at least claimed — that Donald Trump had won the White House because of unprecedented assistance from the Russians, courtesy of Vladimir Putin. Thus Mr. Trump was necessarily beholden to our “archenemy Russia” even though the Democrats bristled at that characterization of Russia only four years earlier when Mitt Romney suggested as much.
But, of course, consistency in politics is valued these days about as much as common sense is. One only need to look at the issue of the border wall or balanced federal budgets to understand that.
Anyway, Mr. Trump was inaugurated one day and the next day thousands marched in Washington in opposition to him with one celebrity dreaming that she might fire-bomb the White House. The real problem, of course, wasn’t the Russians or anything the president had done in his first day in office — dancing with Melania at the Inaugural Ball hardly qualifies as an impeachable offense — but that Mr. Trump had surprisingly beat the fair-haired woman from the left, Hillary Clinton, and all the demanded recounts and attempted bribes of electors could not change the outcome of the election.
So Mr. Trump started his presidency under a cloud: claims of electoral collusion with enemy powers, vague references to violations of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, demands for his taxes, and on, and on ad nauseam. Finally, the president’s first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, reacting to calls for an investigation, took the fateful step of recusing himself from any such investigation, thus putting his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, in charge of it.
Rosenstein then appointed Mr. Mueller, a former director of the FBI, as special counsel to investigate the anti-Trump allegations. My first thought, and I’m sure I wasn’t alone in this, was that it was a good move; Mueller was, after all, a well-respected attorney and lawman, a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, and a man of unquestioned character and ability.
Then, after two years of investigations and some dubious legal tactics, including predawn raids on the homes of Trump associates, the Mueller Report was finished and to the dismay of the progressive left, the president was cleared — well, maybe he was cleared. Maybe there is a nugget of collusion that can still be dug up from this report, the Dems thought, so let’s have the honorable special counsel testify before Congress.
It sounded like sound strategy for the Democrats. Their hero, himself, would sweep in, cape and all, to underscore little known passages and footnotes from his report that would put the left in ecstasy and lead to the easy impeachment of the man who stole the presidency from Hillary Clinton.
So I watched with interest. And what I saw appalled me. Someone should have told Jerry Nadler that the Robert Mueller was not the combat Robert Mueller of his military days, nor was he the Robert Mueller of his lawman days. He was an old, tired Robert Mueller who appeared to only have served as a figurehead for an investigation that Mr. Trump always referred to as a witch hunt. This Robert Mueller had no command of the facts of the investigation, couldn’t remember who had appointed him U.S. attorney (it was Ronald Reagan), and didn’t even seem to know what Fusion GPS was.
My heart actually went out for Mr. Mueller as he fumbled, unable or unwilling to answer questions presented by congressional panels. So if he was so inept and was only a figurehead for the investigation, who was it that did run the investigation? Well, logically it would have been someone from the legal staff of the investigation, one of the “16 angry Democrats” the president complained of.
Of the 16 — three were registered as “no party.” The lead prosecutor, sometimes referred to as Mueller’s pit bull, was Andrew Weissmann, a longtime prosecutor with a reputation of winning at all costs. Weissmann, who, according to Reuters, had made donations of $10,000 to Democrat candidates over the years, had attended Hillary Clinton’s election night party, and had sent a note of encouragement to then Acting Attorney General Sally Yates (an Obama holdover) for having refused to enforce President Trump’s travel ban.
Weissmann was deputy and later director of the task force that prosecuted Enron. During his tenure, Weissmann, according to the Pacific Standard magazine, followed a strategy of flipping targets, even charging family members. He charged the wife of the chief financial officer, Andrew Fastow, with tax evasion to put pressure on Fastow to cooperate.
He also ignored pleas not to charge the accounting firm of Arthur Andersen. He charged anyway, which destroyed the Andersen firm, putting over 20,000 people out of work. His victory was short-lived, however: Three years later a unanimous Supreme Court reversed the Andersen conviction.
He also charged Merrill Lynch over a business transaction it had with Enron. Four convicted Merrill executives went to prison and Weissmann’s team made sure they had no bail on appeal. After a demoralizing year in prison, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the convictions.
In a 2015 prosecution of a New York crime family, reporter Sara Carter writes that the judge cited Weissmann’s conduct as “myopic withholding of information” and “reprehensive and subject, perhaps, to appropriate disciplinary measures” for hiding exculpatory evidence from the defense.
Others on the staff included Jeannie Rhee, who had worked for the Clinton Foundation and had personally represented several Obama administration officials. Mr. Mueller said he never asked about a person’s politics when he hired them; however, a quick conflicts check (required of all law firms before taking on a new client) would have discovered this conflict. Campaign finance reports show that she gave the maximum contributions to Hillary as well as contributions to the Obama campaigns of 2008 and 2011.
James Quarles, the man in the mustache who sat behind Mr. Mueller as he testified, gave $1,300 to Obama in 2007 and $2,300 in 2008, as well as $2,700 to Mrs. Clinton. Records indicate at least ten Democratic senatorial and congressional campaigns received support from Mr. Quarles, as well as the Al Gore and John Kerry campaigns. He did, however, support two Republicans with contributions totaling under $3,000: then-Virginia Sen. George Allen and then-Cong. Jason Chaffetz of Utah.
The Office of the Special Counsel reported that nine of the 16 lawyers had made donations of $62,000 to Democrats and only $2,750 to Republicans. And this represented only contributions for federal elections as reported by the Federal Election Commission. According to Reuters, Mueller attorneys gave nearly $12,000 in Democratic contributions that were found in state databases.
At least 11 lawyers on the 16-lawyer staff had made contributions to Democratic candidates, Reuters reported; only Mr. Quarles was shown making any Republican contributions.
So who was running the investigation? We were told that since Mr. Mueller was a Republican and overseeing the investigation, all would be balanced.
I’m not so sure about that. Robert Mueller might be an honest, honorable man, but he was certainly in no condition to ride herd over this staff. As I listened to his testimony, I learned a bit about his report. It appears that he learned even more.
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