It is stunning to watch people go after Robert Mueller and James Comey as if they were left-wing Democrats. But it’s happening. A new ad by the pro-Trump group, Great American Alliance, talks up the “witch hunt” angle in the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and it uses Facebook “star” Tomi Lahren to do it.
Here is the ad in all of its awfulness:
Before even getting into the issue of who has more credibility, James Comey and Robert Mueller, or Donald Trump, it’s a good idea to pick apart the ad and the blatant disregard it has for the truth.
1. The accusation that Comey is a “leaker” is partisan nonsense – First of all, the claim that executive privilege covers the conversations between Comey and Trump is absurd. When President Trump, in his termination letter to Comey, talked about the three occasions in which Comey said Trump was not personally under investigation, Trump waived any claims of executive privilege. Also, if the Trump administration had any basis for claiming the conversations were privileged, they’d have prevented Comey from testifying. That’s not coming from me. I am referring to Bradley Moss, an attorney familiar with these matters and his expertise.
2. The smearing of Mueller’s staff is right out of the Clinton playbook – In addition to Lahren mispronouncing Mueller’s name (it’s pronounced “muller” not “mewler”), the smear against Mueller’s staff is something we used to see all the time in the Clinton era. Whenever somebody accused the Clintons of wrongdoing, their immediate reaction was to attack the accuser or investigator. Remember Sid Blumenthal calling Ken Starr a “religious fanatic?” This is no different. Here is the biography of Andrew Weissmann, one of Mueller’s staff members being smeared:
Andrew Weissmann is a Senior Fellow to both the Center for Law and Security and the Center on the Administration of Criminal Law. Weissmann served as the General Counsel for the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 2011 to 2013. He previously served as special counsel to Director Mueller in 2005, after which he was a partner at Jenner & Block LLP in New York City. From 2002-2005, he served as the Deputy and then the Director of the Enron Task Force in Washington, D.C., where he supervised the prosecution of more than 30 individuals in connection with the company’s collapse. Weissmann was a federal prosecutor for 15 years in the Eastern District of New York, where he served as the Chief of the Criminal Division. He prosecuted numerous members of the Colombo, Gambino, and Genovese families, including the bosses of the Colombo and Genovese families.
What a monster. I cannot imagine why Robert Mueller would want somebody with these credentials on his team.
Getting back to the issue of credibility. It’s important to remember how often Donald Trump lies. For example, when asked about the loyalty pledge and about asking Comey to drop the investigation of Michael Flynn, Trump denied both. But it was true. Trump stands alone in the lack of credibility Olympics.
There is not a single shred of proof that Robert Mueller, who comes to this investigation without a whiff of scandal, has behaved in a manner that demands he recuse himself from the inquiry. As for the characterization of Mueller and Comey as “close friends?” That too is nonsense.
“Jim has never been to Bob’s house. Bob has never been to Jim’s house,” said David Kelley, who succeeded Comey as U.S. attorney in Manhattan and has known him and Mueller for years. “They’ve had lunch together once and dinner together twice, once with their spouses and again after Jim became the FBI director so that Bob could give him the rundown of what to look for.”
All of that information would have been available to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — who himself has known both men for years — when he appointed Mueller last month to run the investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. That probe is also expected to explore the circumstances of Trump’s firing of Comey on May 9 and whether that dismissal was an attempt to obstruct the Russia probe.
The norms of legal ethics would generally frown upon a prosecutor who investigated a matter in which a friend or relative was a target of a crime. But Comey, though a likely witness, would not be a considered a victim of a crime in the classic sense as the firing in and of itself would not be illegal, said Stephen Gillers, a legal ethics scholar at the New York University law school.
“Although Comey may well be what I call roadkill in the subjects Mueller is investigating, he’s not the victim. His firing has been a consequence of the crime that Mueller is investigating. Their friendship would not require recusing,” he said.
Trump’s efforts to highlight, and exaggerate, their relationship seem by design, as conflict of interest is one of the few grounds for dismissal of a special counsel.
Robert Mueller and James Comey are not the ones with credibility problems in this mess.
President Donald Trump has the credibility problem. If Trump supporters think that attacking the integrity of Robert Mueller is the way to go on this, good luck.