The installation of Matthew Whitaker as the acting attorney general has the recusal pundits barking like shelter dogs in the presence of a trespassing squirrel. In case you’re wondering how the recusal rules work, it’s simply a matter of whether it helps or hurts Trump.
Don’t believe me? See if you can detect a pattern. Since Whitaker might rein in the special counsel, he must be recused, they argue. Similarly, when it appeared former attorney general Jeff Sessions might help Trump, he acceded to demands he recuse himself. But Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is a proven thorn in the president’s side with an obvious conflict of interest, so no demands for recusal there.
Judge Rudy Contreras’s friendship with disgraced FBI agent Peter Strzok and lawyer Lisa Page at the same time he was reviewing Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant applications from Strzok did not require recusal from considering the application. But the Trump appointee with authority to consider a search warrant of Trump’s lawyer’s private office was recused, leading to the raid to look for evidence that likely could have been obtained by subpoena.
The recusal pundits called for the recusal of newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh because he might side with the president in future cases. Yet when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg calls Trump a “faker” and openly expresses dismay at the prospect of his presidency, she need not recuse. Don’t bother reading the underlying rules on conflict of interest, because there’s only one test that matters: Would the recusal help get Trump?
This Is Obviously a Partisan Witch Hunt
Forcing Whitaker to recuse himself from the Robert Mueller probe would “protect” it by restoring oversight responsibility to Rosenstein. This seems to be a bipartisan goal. Republicans have joined the Democrats and the media to knowingly caution against the imprudence of stopping the Mueller “investigation.” But before we start contemplating tortured recusal arguments, it’s worth asking, “What is Mueller supposed to be doing, anyway?”
Mueller is supposed to be investigating “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” or at least that was his original appointment until Rosenstein issued a secret memo supplementing Mueller’s jurisdiction.
By now, everybody knows there is no evidence the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians to win the 2016 election. As I show below, even Trump-hating legacy media sources such as The New York Times have been forced to admit the key facts that support this conclusion. The Russia hoax started when the Hillary Clinton campaign hired Fusion GPS to counterweight her email investigation troubles.
Fusion GPS provided the “dirt” that Fusion GPS-connected Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskyaya used as bait for the Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr. The George Papadopoulos meetings often cited by Trump-Russia collusion boosters appear more connected to U.S. government sting operations than to Russia. U.S. Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr, who is married to Fusion GPS subcontractor Nellie Ohr, unsuccessfully attempted to coerce Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska to say that Manafort was coordinating with Russia during the campaign. Deripaska refused, calling the assertion preposterous.
Mueller Delayed Until Democrats Retook the House
Zero percent of Mueller’s indictments and convictions fall within the mandate of investigating links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. But the investigation did succeed in one important goal of its proponents: to delay and frustrate House oversight into the Justice Department and FBI’s interference in the 2016 elections until after the Democrats could retake the House. It’s not hard to see why the government officials who helped the Clinton campaign advance the Trump-Russia smear would want a new House.
It was these Republican-led House investigations that uncovered many of the critical revelations of the Clinton campaign using Fusion GPS and Perkins Coie to collude with elements inside our own government to interfere with the 2016 election. For example, we would not know that the Clinton campaign paid Fusion GPS to frame Trump for Russia collusion but for a House subpoena of Fusion GPS bank records. Likewise, it was investigators for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence whose investigation originally broke that Nellie Ohr worked for Fusion GPS.
And it was during a House hearing when we learned that Bruce Ohr sponsored Fusion GPS research to the FBI. It was the House memo that revealed Rosenstein signed off on the FISA warrant application that heavily relied upon the Fusion GPS dirt to justify surveillance of Carter Page. Indeed, to the extent that we have an answer to the original mandate of the Mueller probe, we have the House, not Mueller, to thank.
More than half of Americans voting in the midterms think the Mueller probe is politically motivated. Only 40 percent of Americans think the investigation is justified. Let’s stop and think about this for a second. The Mueller probe is staffed with “hyper-partisan” Clinton allies and Trump haters. Second in command is Andrew Weissman, who appears to be reprising his central role in the unjust destruction of accounting firm Arthur Andersen LLP.
Mueller’s probe is a political prosecution, and everyone willing to be honest with the situation knows it. It has no moral basis for continuing even another hour. Where are the calls for their recusals?
Politicized Prosecution Is the End of True Justice
It’s extremely bad for a democracy to criminalize political differences. This is a favorite tool of dictatorships that pretend to be democracies but use the criminal justice system to neutralize their political opposition. For example, Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly trumped up embezzlement and fraud charges against Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny to prevent him from participating in presidential elections.
Russia uses leaks and issues bogus international arrest warrants against critics of the Russian government. The assembly line of political prosecution appears to be the only thing that functions efficiently in the socialist paradise of Venezuela. To criticize or run for office against the ruling party in Egypt, Pakistan, China, Burma, Saudi Arabia, and many other such countries could put your legal well-being in jeopardy.
Unfortunately, prosecution of political opponents is becoming more common in America, as prosecutors seek to interfere with or reverse elections results in Missouri, Texas, Alaska, New York, and Virginia, to name a few high-profile examples. With the real control of the Mueller probe in the hands of leftist partisans, political prosecution might seem a tolerable evil to the left as it seeks to reverse the 2016 election. It’s not. It’s just evil. And it shouldn’t be tolerated by any on the left who still believe in democracy.
Even as the left makes lofty pronouncements about how the Mueller investigation protects constitutional principles, it does exactly the opposite by driving us ever closer to an America in which criminal prosecutions steer elections to the outcome desired by the real power brokers. The scary thing is that a majority of Americans can see this for what it is. Our leaders nevertheless lecture their subjects on the moral necessity for Mueller’s criminal probe to continue pursuit of its apparent real goal: to reverse a political outcome too important to be left to voters.