June 21, 2017


Robert Mueller terrifies President Trump. Of course he wants him gone. (Richard Painter and Norman Eisen, June 20, 2017, USA Today)

He is about as good a special counsel as one can imagine, having bipartisan credentials and deep prosecutorial experience -- far more than the late Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox. And Mueller is assembling a dream team of expert deputies. Of course the president would love an excuse to get rid of Mueller.

We have rebutted claims that Mueller's prior law firm affiliation posed a conflict -- under the District of Columbia's tough professional conduct rules, it does not. But Trump's surrogates continue to manufacture new and ludicrous conflict of interest claims against Mueller. One is that because he worked closely with James Comey at the FBI and because Comey is a material witness to the obstruction of justice part of the case, Mueller cannot investigate and if appropriate prosecute the obstruction of justice charge.

We are not aware of any precedent for a prosecutor being required to recuse from a case simply because a colleague who was also a law enforcement officer was a material witness in the case. Nor do the applicable rules of professional conduct for attorneys or prosecutors require it. In fact, many prosecutors are close friends with police officers, detectives, FBI agents and other law enforcement officials. Indeed, the rules even explicitly state that a lawyer can act as an advocate in a trial in which another lawyer currently in the same law firm is a witness -- so clearly, a former colleague would not be a problem. To preclude prosecutors from working on cases solely for these kinds of reasons would unduly hamper the course of justice.

Another argument is that Mueller should not have hired any lawyers for his staff who made significant campaign contributions. This overlooks that Mueller himself was a registered Republican when he was appointed by President George W. Bush to head the FBI, and he was named special counsel by Trump's own deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein.

His critics apparently feel that Mueller has not sufficiently solidified his GOP credentials by making significant campaign contributions recently. But to them, his deeper sin is that he appointed to his staff a handful of lawyers who made contributions to Democrats. This presumably makes the entire enterprise a partisan "witch hunt."

This objection is frivolous. Presidents of both political parties have for a long time appointed campaign contributors to be U.S. attorneys and top Justice Department officials. Every American is subject to being prosecuted by these officials who were also campaign contributors to one party or the other. But a Republican special counsel who hires a handful of Democrats is presumed to be biased against the most powerful man in the country, the president? Nonsense.

...who doesn't believe that he fired Comey?

Posted by at June 21, 2017 9:01 AM