Lost in Unmasking and Flynn Case News -- Devin Nunes Announces Members of Mueller's Team Will Be Subjects of Criminal Referrals

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., returns to a secure area in the Capitol where his panel is interviewing former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon as part of its ongoing Russia investigation, in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

On May 13, 2020, Caitlin Yilek at the Washington Examiner had a bombshell story that got lost in the breaking news about the Obama Administration “unmasking” scandal, and the orders from Judge Sullivan in the Gen. Flynn case.

Yilek’s bombshell came from an interview with Devin Nunes during which he said that the GOP Minority Members on the House Intelligence Committee would be making criminal referrals to the Department of Justice on individual members of the Special Counsel’s Office headed by Robert Mueller.

“We’re doing a large criminal referral on the Mueller dossier team that put together a fraudulent report — that knew there was no collusion the day that Mueller walked in the door,” the California Republican added. “They set an obstruction of justice trap. There’s no doubt in my mind that we will make a conspiracy referral there.”

Yilek continues:

Nunes has long maintained that Mueller knew from the day he became special counsel in May 2017 that there was no coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. He says the House Intelligence Committee, which conducted its own Russian interference investigation when he was chairman, determined there was no collusion by early 2018.

There is probably much sentiment that this is a justified step for Nunes to take.  I agree that there is significant evidence now in public view that the entire “Russia-Trump” collusion narrative was a political “hit job” from the beginning by the outgoing Obama Administration, following up on the efforts by the losers in the Clinton campaign to explain their epic failure in losing the 2016 election to Pres. Trump.

I agree that by mid-May, 2017, any fair-minded examination of what the FBI and Justice Department had discovered since Crossfire Hurricane was opened on July 31, 2016, would have concluded that there was no substance to the allegations and suspicious that kicked off the entire fiasco.  Evidence of that is found in the text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page when they were debating whether to leave their positions and join the Special Counsel’s team.  On May 19, 2017, two days after the appointment of Mueller as Special Counsel, Strzok sent his infamous message saying “There’s no big there there” — a seeming acknowledgement by him that the 10 months of investigation hadn’t produced any meaningful information that supported the claims of collusion or cooperation between the Trump Campaign and Russian actors.

We know they had renewed the Carter Page FISA warrant a second time, and had been able to review all his campaign email communications — without finding anything.

We know that Strzok was aware that most, if not all of the allegations in the Steele memos had turned out to be false — and most importantly he know that five months before his May text message Steele’s sources had disavowed the things that Steele had attributed to them in those memos.

We know that five months earlier the counterintelligence investigation of General Flynn was to be closed because there the investigation targeting him specifically had produced “no derogatory information.”

We know that the investigation of George Papadopolous and what he said to Alexander Downer in a London pub had been completely debunked back in the fall of 2016 when Stefan Halper could elicit nothing from multiple meetings with Papadopolous other than denials of any contact or involvement with Russian individuals.  In fact, the investigation of Papadopolous had confirmed he had NO RUSSIAN CONTACTS at all.

We know the only inquiries into Paul Manafort that proved fruitful involved issues of Manafort’s political consulting years before becoming involved in the Trump campaign, and involved money laundering and tax problems.

We know that through the course of 2017 and 2018, more than 50 people connected to the Obama Administration and Clinton Campaign testified before the House Intelligence Committee and admitted that they had no evidence or information that there was any collusion between the Trump Campaign and Russians.

We know that Jim Comey and Andy McCabe were both duplicitous self-aggrandizing resisters who opposed Trump as a candidate and as President, and were happy to target him with politically motivated “obstruction” investigations.

And we know that for the most part Mueller’s team was an assemblage of Democrat Party operatives who had gone in and out of government positions, with many having been overt supporters of Hillary Clinton.  There is no longer any question that they conducted a more that two-year long Javert-esqe crusade to find any legal basis upon which they might bring the Trump Presidency to its knees — legitimately or illegitimately.

I’m sure others can add to this list easily, and it could go on for a dozen or more entries.  The issue of “bad faith” with regard to those who actively participated in the pursuit of the Trump Campaign and Trump Administration through the various enterprises employed in 2016-2018 is not seriously in question any longer.

BUT ….

While many of the actors who participated in the efforts to bring down the Trump Campaign or hinder the Trump Presidency in its earliest months are legitimate candidates for criminal prosecution if it can be established that there actions were in violation of federal law — it’s a big step beyond that to target a legitimately appointed Special Counsel and his staff based on their over-zealous pursuit of the target they were given.

Right or wrong — and wrong is clearly the correct answer — Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller pursuant to a DOJ regulation, and gave him a mandate to pursue counterintelligence and criminal investigations as a surrogate of DOJ.  There is a lot to disagree with in terms of the strategy and tactics they employed, and they have been criticized where those objectionable tactics have come to light — such as in the case of the prosecution of Gen. Flynn.  I’m sure we will find out there is much more that was objectionable in the weeks and months ahead as the Barr/Durham/Jensen probes come into better focus.

But to target Mueller SCO for criminal prosecution is another level of escalation in this “lawfare” mentality.

On what basis would the GOP/Conservative component of the country complain if Attorney General Sally Yates initiates a criminal investigation of William Barr and John Durham in the early days of a Biden Presidency?

At some point these exercises must return to being political disputes and not legal proceedings to settle scores, with the disputes resolved at the ballot box and not with a grand jury.