Today: 20.06.2018
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19.06.2018

Ugly as Mueller’s investigation may look, it’s on track to clear Trump.

There was a rush to judgment last week on Peter Strzok, a top FBI counterintelligence agent and one of the lead agents on the Hillary Clinton e-mails investigation, after revelations that Strzok exchanged text messages during the 2016 campaign with an FBI lawyer that were pro-Clinton and anti-Trump. The lawyer was Lisa Page, with whom...
Time: 22:08     Date: 12.12.2017
Last US News - Opinion: Ugly as Mueller’s investigation may look, it’s on track to clear Trump. NY Post 24 - US News

Like Strzok, Page worked on both the Clinton probe and on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia.

In light of the obvious appearance of bias, Mueller rightly removed Strzok from the Trump-Russia case. (Page had already left the investigation.) Nevertheless, Strzok and the Mueller investigation were slammed as Clintonian pillars of anti-Trump animus. Not only were there calls for a purge of possibly corrupt bureaucrats in the FBI and Justice Department, but one Fox News host asserted that these government lawyers and agents should be “taken out in handcuffs” and “locked up.”

Interesting thing: Mueller recently took a guilty plea from Michael Flynn, fleetingly Trump’s national-security adviser, for lying in an FBI interview. News that the interview was conducted by Strzok added fuel to the bias fire.

Yet, as The Wall Street Journal reported last week, former FBI director James Comey told the House Intelligence Committee in closed-session last March that the agents who interviewed Flynn believed he had been truthful. Far from railroading Flynn (and, derivatively, Trump), it appears that Strzok and Comey’s FBI did not seek his prosecution. That decision was made months later, by Mueller’s investigators. It was based on additional investigation, which is hard to depict as skewed since Flynn, after all, has admitted his guilt.

There is significant reason to be concerned about investigative bias.

The Clinton investigation featured highly irregular practices — e.g., the failure to use the grand jury to subpoena important evidence; the Justice Department restricting the FBI’s ability to ask questions and examine evidence; immunity deals for witnesses who should have been forced to plead guilty and cooperate fully; and the failure to prosecute witnesses who appear to have lied in statements to the FBI. In addition, we now know that, with Strzok’s assistance, then-Director Comey prepared remarks urging that Clinton not be charged months before she and other key witnesses were interviewed.

Moreover, his reputation for personal integrity notwithstanding, Mueller has exhibited terrible judgment when it comes to assuring the integrity of his investigation. The ridiculously large 17-lawyer team he has assembled is chockablock with Democratic donors and activists, including attorneys who’ve represented the Clinton Foundation and a suspect in the Clinton e-mails investigation.

Worse, many of these recruits were top officials in the Obama Justice Department when they were tapped. When the dust settles, we may learn that the real “collusion” story of the 2016 election wasn’t Trump and Russia, but the manner in which the Obama administration’s law-enforcement and intelligence arms were put in the service of the Clinton political campaign.

We must remain mindful, though, that Mueller has so far issued three sets of charges: the one against Flynn, another false-statements charge against low-level Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, and the indictment of Paul Manafort and Richard Gates. None of these allege any wrongdoing by President Trump or any collusion between his campaign and the Kremlin.

Of course, it’s entirely possible Mueller is exploring whether there is a basis for the president’s impeachment. That is a political remedy, not a legal one. The protections of criminal due process would not apply, so it would theoretically be easier to prove “high crimes and misdemeanors” than ordinary criminal offenses. But it’s a very long shot.

The higher likelihood is that the Mueller investigation, despite all the reasonable suspicions about its partisanship, will end up exonerating the president. At this point, it’s anything but clear that investigators who have political points of view have let them infect Mueller’s investigation. The Strzok controversy and other indicia of bias should be aggressively investigated by Congress. But President Trump — and the rest of us — would be well advised to wait for the facts before drawing conclusions.

Andrew C. McCarthy, a contributing editor at National Review, is a former federal prosecutor.

Opinion

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Opinion

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Living

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Business

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Metro

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Sport

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