The Case for Mueller

As Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has heated up, the President’s allies see evidence of a partisan witch hunt. Anti-Trump text messages sent by Peter Strzok, an FBI agent dismissed from Mueller’s team; connections between some of the attorneys Mueller has hired and prominent Democrats; and, an apparently cozy relationship between the FBI and the firm responsible for a Democrat-funded opposition research dossier prepared by a British spy provide ammunition.

Mueller has assembled a first-rate team of investigators and prosecutors. It is true that some among his team have given money to Democrats and aren’t big Trump fans. But, this should not be surprising.

Half of the country opposed Trump’s election, and among the ranks of elite lawyers Mueller had to draw from as he built his team, a dim view of Donald Trump is the norm. Because the law specifically forbids Mueller from considering political affiliation in hiring, it was inevitable that the Special Counsel’s team would include a fair amount of people with political views divergent from those of the President.

In Washington, a town where people are defined by partisan affiliations, it’s always possible to make the case that partisan bias is at play. The question, as it relates to Mueller, is have those partisan affiliations improperly tainted the investigation? The facts of the matter argue against it.

Mueller is a Republican with a reputation for fairness. And his actions, including  reassigning Strzok, suggest that he takes the investigation’s impartiality seriously. Lawyers and investigators are professionals trained to set their personal political views aside as they go about their work. When that work is completed, they’ll either have the goods or not. It doesn’t much matter  whom they preferred in the 2016 election.

When the FBI was investigating Hillary Clinton’s emails last year, some of her partisans lodged similar complaints of partisan bias. And, they too had good reason. Although he was appointed by President Obama, FBI Director Jim Comey is a Republican who has given money to Republican Presidential candidates after all

Trump evokes strong opinions, so it is hard to imagine an investigation that would be truly impartial. The furor tacitly implies that only those friendly to Trump should be permitted to conduct the investigation. That makes little sense.

Investigators and prosecutors are not judge and jury. It will be courts that decide whether or not they have proved their case. When it comes to Trump, it is a Republican Congress who will decide whether Mueller’s findings merit impeachment.

If Mueller has overstepped the line, that will only become clear after his investigation is concluded. Congress and the courts will have the opportunity to weigh this question in light of the evidence presented. But, one might suspect that all this witch hunt stuff is less about getting to the truth than discrediting Mueller and his investigation.

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