On Wednesday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appeared before the House Judiciary Committee for what was somewhat misleadingly billed as an “oversight hearing.” In fact, the point of Wednesday’s hearing was to cast doubt on the integrity and fairness of Robert Mueller’s probe into links between the Trump campaign and Russia.
In his opening statement, Virginia Republican Bob Goodlatte set the tone and accused Mueller’s team of exhibiting an “extreme bias against Mr. Trump.” Goodlatte charged that “high-ranking FBI officials involved in the Clinton investigation were personally invested in the outcome of the election, and clearly let their strong political opinions cloud their professional judgment.”
Texas Republican Lamar Smith worried that the “special counsel is casting too wide of a net” and demanded to know if Mueller had made any request to “expand the original scope of the investigation,” particularly with regard to the finances of Trump’s family members.
Ohio Republican Steve Chabot recited the names of those on Mueller’s team, which he accused of being “a group of Democrat [sic] partisans,” who at one time or another had made campaign contributions to Democratic candidates. The actual amounts of these contributions were provided by Louisiana Republican Mike Johnson, who found that Mueller’s investigators and attorneys have, in total, donated over $62,000 to Democrats as against $2,750 to Republicans over the last several campaign cycles.
“No one on Mueller’s team,” complained Ohio Republican Jim Jordan, “likes Trump.”
Another popular Republican target was FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok, whom The Hill has aptly described as “GOP Enemy No. 1.”
Strzok has come under fire for sending politically charged, anti-Trump text messages to his FBI colleague Lisa Page.
At Wednesday’s hearing, Texas Republican Louie Gohmert read through a number of the more ill-considered messages sent by Strzok. Gohmert then dutifully expressed his no doubt deeply felt outrage over the idea that a federal law-enforcement official might harbor private political opinions.
Republicans seem to be both overreaching and overreacting when they claim that Strzok single-handedly made the determination that freed Hillary Clinton from legal jeopardy. As Andrew McCarthy, a former US Attorney turned conservative pundit, has noted,“If you’ve made up your mind that Peter Strzok is responsible for tanking the Hillary Clinton case, and that he was putting his thumb on Mueller’s scale against the Trump administration, you are way out ahead of what we actually know—and you’re probably wrong.”