June 15, 2017

KURT SCHLICHTER: Why Should We Trust Mueller?

The establishment is praising Mueller up and down. They tell me he’s honest. They tell me he’s incorruptible. But they also told me Jim Comey was a towering paragon of virtue instead of a towering pile of Harry Reid. . . .

Why should we believe this isn’t rigged? Because people in D.C. promise us that “Hey, this guy is honest?”

I guess we’re supposed to think “Yeah, well this time they’ve got to be telling us the truth. They’re totally due.”

But here’s the problem – we now have lots of new facts that change the original picture of our esteemed special counsel. Yes, as the Democrat steno pool that is the media has pointed out as we got woke to what’s happening, a lot of conservatives (including me) were initially satisfied with Mueller when he was appointed to investigate the Trump/Russia connection that everyone now admits doesn’t exist. But then came some troubling revelations which – whoa! – made us re-evaluate our prior understanding. So we – brace yourselves! – changed our minds in the face of new evidence.

Let’s look at all of the evidence. Mueller seems like a good guy. War hero. No scandals as FBI director. Not a known scumbag or skeevy perv. In Washington terms, the last one alone puts him miles ahead of the competition.

But now we find out that he’s Leaky Jim Comey’s bestest buddy there ever was. These guys are pals, and now Mueller is going to investigate the dude who fired his amigo? Does that seem cool to you?

If the HR Department at work is investigating you, do they pick as the lead investigator the guy you go drink Budweiser with? Sure they do, unless Chet the Unicorn is free, because the only thing more unlikely than picking a key player in the investigation’s friend to do it is picking a damn unicorn to do it.

So, Jim Comey – whose hurt feelings seem to be the only thing left of this Schumer-show of a scandal – is the key guy in the pseudo-scandal, and he’s got a motive to shaft the president, yet his friend is investigating it and somehow that’s supposed to be A-OK?

Related: “I’ll say it: If the special counsel’s office is leaking prejudicial information about an investigation, it should be shut down immediately.”

Also: “Sessions can’t sit on this. He’s either got to come out [and say] WaPo is wrong or he’s got to make the entire team recuse itself, start over.”

UPDATE: From Randy Barnett: “Mueller should resign not recuse. If he recuses, the matter will be delegated to one of the Democrat attack lawyers he’s hired.”

By the way, for those who don’t know, this is a celebrated Georgetown Law Professor who’s now calling for Mueller to step down over conflicts.

Related: Mueller Is Conflicted Out.

28 CFR Section 45.2 provides in part as follows:

Disqualification arising from personal or political relationship.

(a) Unless authorized under paragraph (b) of this section, no employee shall participate in a criminal investigation or prosecution if he has a personal or political relationship with:

(1) Any person or organization substantially involved in the conduct that is the subject of the investigation or prosecution; or

(2) Any person or organization which he knows has a specific and substantial interest that would be directly affected by the outcome of the investigation or prosecution….

(c) For the purposes of this section:

(2)Personal relationship means a close and substantial connection of the type normally viewed as likely to induce partiality….Whether relationships (including friendships) of an employee to other persons [outside his or her family] or organizations are “personal” must be judged on an individual basis with due regard given to the subjective opinion of the employee.

Jim Comey and Bob Mueller have been friends for about 15 years. They were partners in the episode that — I think it’s no exaggeration to say — defined Comey’s professional persona more than any other in his career. It would be surprising if it did not also forge a permanent bond with Mueller. . . .

Comey now finds himself smack-dab at the center of the Russian investigation over which Mueller presides. Questions swirl around Comey — about whether the President wanted/hinted/hoped/asked/directed/or something else the investigation of National Security Adviser Gen. Flynn to be stopped/abandoned/slowed/soft-peddled/something else. This is probably the central element of the obstruction of justice case Mr. Trump’s opponents would like to see made against him.

Questions also swirl about Comey’s notes about this conversation, why he gave them to a private individual (Prof. Dan Richman of Columbia Law) to convey to the press. Additional questions have arisen about whether this curious and seemingly devious means of putting contents of the notes in the public domain (leaking, in other words) was designed specifically to bring about the appointment of a Special Counsel outside the President’s direct reach — and, indeed, whether Comey wanted, expected or intended his friend Mueller to get the job.

There is much to be said of all this, none of it very happy-making. But one thing that can be said with considerable clarity if not comfort is that, under the governing rules (set forth above), Mueller has a long-term relationship with Comey that “may result in a personal…conflict of interest, or the appearance thereof.”

He is therefore disqualified. I hope and believe that Mueller, whom I believe to be an honest man and a partisan of the rule of law, will see this for himself. If he doesn’t, I hope Rod Rosenstein will.

Mueller should resign. Aside from the issues above, I don’t see any way that his office’s work will be seen as impartial, defeating the point of a special counsel. And given that — as even Chris Matthews has admitted — the whole Russia-collusion story has imploded, I’m not sure why his office shouldn’t just be shut down.

MORE: From the comments:

Trust Mueller? From the WaPo article on obstruction we get this gem:

“Five people briefed on the interview requests, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly…”

Five friggin’ people on Mueller’s super-secret investigation team leaked!

Yeah, let’s trust these people.

What percentage is that of the office as a whole?