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Political Editors / Jun. 20, 2017

Robert Mueller's Investigators: Impartial Team or Hit Squad?

Special investigator Robert Mueller has assembled a team with some hard core Democrats and Clinton connections.

Several weeks ago, we asked whether Robert Mueller’s investigation into President Donald Trump and the whole Russia fiasco was legitimate or a witch hunt. It’s enough that he’s an old friend and mentor for James Comey, but we’re discovering much more about the investigation by virtue of the team Mueller is putting in place.

Among that team are three individuals with troubling ties to the Clintons and Democrats. Anthony Weismann is a prosecutor who’s given a lot of money to Barack Obama and Democrats. Aaron Zebley represented Justin Cooper, who was a Hillary aide and one of two people with access to Clinton’s clandestine email server — Cooper helped set it up. Perhaps most questionable is Jeannie Rhee, who worked for Eric Holder, gave $16,000 to Democrats in the last nine years, and, the kicker, she represented Hillary Clinton in the lawsuit over her illegal email subterfuge and defended the Clinton Foundation in a racketeering lawsuit.

Nevertheless, former independent counsel Ken Starr said of Mueller, “He has his head down, he’s doing his job, he’s assembled a fantastic team. That is a great, great team of complete professionals, so let’s let him do his job.” Mueller is indeed respected on both sides of the aisle. And yet…

The appointments prompt questions about the team’s objectives and impartiality. Can having Clinton attack dogs on the case be a good sign for Trump? Newt Gingrich doesn’t think so. “Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair,” he said. “The fix is in.” Noted liberal Harvard legal scholar Alan Dershowitz warned the investigation was becoming “too political”: “I care more about due process and civil liberties than I do about politics. … The real problem with the appointment of a special counsel in this case is that the most serious allegations against the Trump administration are not criminal in nature, and are therefore beyond the scope of the special counsel’s mandate.” Dershowitz compared a special prosecutor in this case to police state prosecutions: “Lavrentiy Beria, the notorious former head of the Soviet KGB, once reportedly said to Stalin ‘show me the man, and I’ll show you the crime.’” And former Clinton advisor Dick Morris asserted, “This is not a special prosecutor’s staff; this is a hit squad.”

Strategically, there are two possibilities. One, investigators are going to rabbit trail and find something, somewhere about Russia or something else, and then make a referral to the House to trip up the GOP ahead of the 2018 election. The question of impeachment will be hung around Republican necks, which will be especially troubling for Republicans in marginal districts.

Two, contrary to Dershowitz, Mueller has put Democrats on his team so that when they find nothing, they’ll be immune from charges of partisanship. Let’s hope it’s the latter, but brace for the former.

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