If we could all climb into our time machines and visit any day in the months leading up to Robert Mueller’s appointment, we’d find the same thing on every news channel: absolutely everyone with a “D” after his or her name going on about the need for a special counsel to investigate “Russia Russia Russia,” with a laser-beam focus on finding ties with the Trump campaign. Not that there was any evidence of a crime, which is normally called for when a special counsel is appointed; Democrats proclaimed that the issue of “collusion” was so important, we HAD to have a special counsel! It was as if a memo had gone out: “Remember –- Special. Counsel. Talk it up! Consider the benefits --- even if there’s no evidence, we can tie Trump up for years and cast suspicion on his entire administration! We can snare him in a perjury trap (doesn’t matter if he’s deliberately inaccurate or not) and impeach him! You owe it to your party: keep the drumbeat going until a special counsel is appointed!”
I suppose there wasn’t an official memo, because if there had been one, WikiLeaks surely would have leaked it. But the effort was just as coordinated. Everyone used the same talking points and the same relentless hammering. And they finally got what they wanted. They succeeded beyond their wildest dreams: not only did they get a special counsel, but it’s about as packed with pro-Hillary, anti-Trump investigators as the upper echelon of the 2016 FBI.
Contrast that strategy with the way most Republican leaders have approached the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the politically-tainted FBI “investigation” of Hillary’s mishandling of classified email and the FISA application for spying on Trump associates, which were both infected by partisanship and conflicts of interest. We have real evidence of this, right in front of us, and these are crimes. But Republican leaders were extremely hesitant to create yet another special counsel to “investigate the investigators.”
Over time, though, through the persistence of Rep. Devin Nunes of the House Intelligence Committee and a few intrepid reporters and dogged, FOIA-waving lawyers, information gradually came to light that made it virtually impossible to do without one. The problems within the FBI simply cannot be investigated by the FBI, as South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham also has noted. An inspector general has been looking into the problems, and his sure-to-be-enlightening report will be out any week now. But Horowitz is extremely limited in what he can do.
He has no subpoena power. He can interview current FBI staff but not those who are no longer there, such as key player Andrew McCabe. A special counsel could subpoena McCabe and the other staffers who have left; plus those outside of government, such as Nellie Ohr and Glenn Simpson; plus any relevant documents; plus the heavy-hitters: Lynch, Holder, Hillary Clinton, even Obama if it came to that (now a private citizen; can I hear an amen). No inspector general has the power to see to the bottom of the swamp.
That’s why Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, finally changed his mind, along with Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee. In a letter to Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, they said, “The public interest requires the appointment of a Special Counsel” to investigate “certain decisions made and not made by the Department of Justice and FBI in 2016 and 2017” due to potential political conflicts of interest.”
“There is evidence of bias, trending toward animus, among those charged with serious cases,” the letter states. “There is evidence political opposition research was used in court filings. There is evidence this political opposition research was neither vetted before it was used nor fully revealed to the relevant tribunal.”
And now, just as Democrats “got the memo” on demanding a special counsel to investigate Trump with no evidence of a crime, they apparently got another one on how to react to the Republicans’ call for a special counsel to look into ACTUAL CRIMES. California Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, leads the choir, of course. Read his full quote in the story at Roll Call, along with a response from Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings of the House Oversight Committee; these are quite amusing in their predictability and so very wrong.
Republicans are only now concluding that as long as we have the disruption of one special counsel, we may as well have two, if only to present a more nearly complete and balanced picture of what’s been going on deep in our own bureaucracy.
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