Mainstream news reports paint a picture of President Trump and his White House as increasingly upset and worried about what new information special counsel Robert Mueller will turn up with his aggressive searches of attorney Michael Cohen’s home, office, hotel room and security deposit box. Absent from such accounts is any defense of the right to attorney-client privilege, which appears to be as endangered in recent days as the concept of privacy on Facebook. Overzealous reporters –- and prosecutors –- start from the assumption that Trump has something to hide, and then they split legal hairs into microscopic fragments to find some reason for his constitutional rights to be waived.
Of course the President is frustrated –- wouldn’t you be? Still, the media narrative goes even further, describing a President bursting at the seams and ready to fire Mueller. This is incorrect; Trump is well aware that eager opponents are just salivating at the thought of him firing the special counsel and the inevitable chain of events that would follow. His lawyers are surely telling him, “You’re innocent, so don’t act guilty.” I’d say he’s less likely to fire Mueller that than he is to give up tweeting.
But Trump isn’t the only one vexed by the current state of all these investigations. And he’s not the only one who finds it irresistible to compare the overreach in his case to the “underreach” when it comes to Hillary’s. North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, head of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, has written a letter to South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy asking the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to examine the many texts between passionately anti-Trump FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. “These documents...suggest a concerning level of coordination between the Department of Justice and the FBI through crucial moments of the investigation into Secretary Clinton’s private email server,” the letter states.
Judge Andrew Napolitano, appearing on FOX News, understands the concern but seems mystified as to why yet another Congressional investigation is necessary. The evidence that Hillary Clinton committed espionage –- the failure to safeguard state secrets –- is overwhelming, he says. Likewise, the defects in James Comey’s justification for not prosecuting her are obvious to all. Since the statute of limitations on her alleged crimes has not yet run out, he asks why Attorney General Jeff Sessions doesn’t turn all the evidence over to a team of prosecutors and have them present it to a grand jury. Napolitano believes a grand jury would indict. “That would be the just thing to do,” he says, because then we would have the perception of laws being enforced fairly.
The judge makes a fabulous point about the argument some make that we’d be like a “banana republic” if the winner of our election indicted the loser: “Meaning if you run for President and lose, you get a free pass on committing felonies??” (Judge, if you’re Hillary Clinton, that has certainly seemed to be the case.) It’s not true, he adds, that no reasonable prosecutor would take the case, as then-FBI Director James Comey said in his July 2016 announcement that Hillary would walk. “I know a lot of reasonable prosecutors –- Democrats and Republicans –- who would’ve taken the case, because the evidence of guilt is overwhelming.”
Napolitano goes on to criticize Comey for thinking from a political rather than a law enforcement perspective. Same for former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, whom he notes has escaped “scot free.”
It’s not just legal minds that are critical. The longer the special counsel investigation goes on, the less favorable the public finds Robert Mueller. According to a new Marist poll conducted April 10-13, 30 percent of Americans now have an unfavorable view of Mueller, up 10 percent since the end of March. The poll shows more people know who he is than did then; perhaps they’re disturbed by what they’ve heard lately about no-knock raids and the push to end attorney-client privilege. Over half of Republicans say the investigation into President Trump has been unfair (this is trending up as well), but they do think Mueller should be allowed to complete the work.
You won’t be surprised at one vocal supporter of the special counsel: Former Attorney General Eric Holder, he of “contempt of Congress” honors, who appeared on MSNBC (where else?) to predict that the investigation of this “classic case” would last about two years and eventually charge President Trump with obstruction of justice.
So far, I haven’t seen much “justice” to obstruct, have you?
UPDATE: Trey Gowdy responded to the letter from the Congressional Freedom Caucus with an official request to the Inspector General, FBI and Department of Justice for an investigation into the Strzok/Page texts as they relate to “collusion” (my word) between the DOJ and FBI and the alleged false testimony given by James Comey in the “matter” (Loretta Lynch’s word) of Hillary Clinton’s emails.
This is in addition to a letter sent Wednesday by eleven Republican legislators to Attorney General Sessions, FBI Director Christopher Wray and the U.S. attorney who is now handling records requests from Congress, calling for a criminal investigation relating a long list of allegations including bias against President Trump. It cites Hillary Clinton (for allegations of possible illegal funding of political opposition research in the form of the “Trump dossier”), James Comey (for his recommendation against Hillary’s prosecution in the email case and allegations of lying and perjury in his related testimony), Andrew McCabe, Loretta Lynch, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page and former acting Attorney General Sally Yates.
Congressional Republicans are getting itchy while waiting interminably for the Inspector General’s report, which might go a long way towards clarifying much of this. No doubt it's been delayed over and over by more more swampy excursions and discoveries. But in the meantime, they’re complaining loudly about “dissimilar degrees of zealousness” –- a richly expressive way of saying “double standard" –- regarding the investigations into Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Partisanship within their own committees has prevented them from accomplishing much on their own, so now the letters are flying to institutions that can actually prosecute. They’re to be commended for forcing the issue with Jeff Sessions and making it harder for him to continue his mystifying failure to act.
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