It has now been reported that Donald Trump’s nominee to be the next United States Attorney General, William Barr, sent an unsolicited memo to the Department of Justice in June of 2018 that criticized the Mueller investigation:
William Barr, President Donald Trump’s pick to replace ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions, sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in June, criticizing the Russia probe, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The 20-page memo focused specifically on the obstruction of justice portion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. According to the WSJ’s review of the document, Barr said Trump was acting within his authority when he fired former FBI Director James Comey. Barr offered his insight as a “former official” whose “views may be useful” before calling the investigation “fatally misconceived.”
“As I understand it, his theory is premised on a novel and legally insupportable reading of the law,” Barr wrote, according to the WSJ. “Moreover, in my view, if credited by the Justice Department, it would have grave consequences far beyond the immediate confines of this case and would do lasting damage to the Presidency and to the administration of law within the Executive branch.”
It has been previously reported that prior to nominating William Barr to be the next Attorney General, Donald Trump did not even know who he was, which is understandable seeing as how William Barr has not worked in government for 25 years.
But, William Barr opposes the Mueller investigation, so that is all Donald Trump needed to know.
It is also likely the same reason why Donald Trump violated the United States Constitution to name Matthew Whitaker to be the acting Attorney General until his nominee for the permanent replacement can be confirmed by the Senate.
Here is a collection of Whitaker’s long list of writings, tweets, and statements criticizing the probe.
Opposing Mueller before he was appointed
After Trump fired FBI director James Comey, Whitaker wrote an May 2017 op-ed in the Hill calling the move “the right decision.” He took a firm stance against appointing a special counsel to investigate Trump’s campaign ties to Russia, writing, “Hollow calls for independent prosecutors are just craven attempts to score cheap political points and serve the public in no measurable way.”
No obstruction of justice case
In a June 2017 radio interview discussing former FBI director James Comey’s Congressional testimony on his firing by Trump, Whitaker said “there is no criminal obstruction of justice charge to be had here [against Trump].” Obstruction of justice is one of the charges Mueller is believed to be pursuing.
Defunding Mueller’s investigation
Whitaker, former chief of staff to Sessions, sketched out a scenario in which Sessions was fired and his replacement doesn’t fire Mueller but undercuts the investigation, speaking on CNN in July 2017.
“I could see a scenario where Jeff Sessions is replaced, it would [be a] recess appointment and that attorney general doesn’t fire Bob Mueller but he just reduces his budget to so low that his investigations grinds to almost a halt.”
Becoming a “witch hunt”
In an Aug. 2017 CNN op-ed, Whitaker wrote that Mueller’s investigation was at risk of becoming a “witch hunt.” It would be “dangerously close to crossing” a “red line” if he looked into Trump’s finances, he wrote. In contrast to many other experts, Whitaker argued that Mueller does not have “broad, far-reaching powers” in the probe.
“You always take the meeting”
Whitaker has also reportedly defended Donald Trump Jr.’s decision to meet a Russian lawyer offering dirt on Hillary Clinton, saying on CNN that, “You would always take the meeting.”
The “lynch mob” tweet
A month later, Whitaker joined the Department of Justice as Sessions’ chief of staff.
And now that news has come out about William Barr’s opposition to the Mueller investigation, his nomination would certainly appear to face a tough hurdle for confirmation in the Senate. It is unlikely that any Democrat will approve of an Attorney General that would attempt to shut down the Mueller investigation, and if only a few Republican Senators grow a backbone, the nomination could end up being scuttled.
However, for Donald Trump, this might not be a problem. Because his temporary Attorney General seems bound and determined to do Trump’s bidding with regards to the Mueller investigation. Despite receiving an opinion from a top DOJ ethics official that he should recuse himself from the Mueller investigation, Matthew Whitaker is refusing to recuse himself:
Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker chose not to recuse himself from the Russia investigation even though a top Justice Department ethics official advised him to step aside out of an “abundance of caution,” a senior official said Thursday.
Whitaker’s past criticism of the Russia investigation has raised questions about whether he can oversee it fairly. The ethics official said this week that a recusal was “a close call,” but suggested that Whitaker remove himself, even though he was not required to do so.
Whitaker decided not to take the advice.
Donald Trump and his picks for Attorney General appear bound and determined to shut down the Mueller investigation, to the point where they are willing to flout the Constitution and DOJ ethics guidelines. Yet, Mitch McConnell and other Republicans in the Senate continue to refuse to allow a bill to be voted on to protect the Mueller investigation, even though that bill likely has enough votes to pass.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) on Wednesday blocked a floor vote on a bipartisan bill to safeguard special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation from President Donald Trump.
Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) had attempted to force a vote on the legislation on Wednesday afternoon, but Lee objected, stopping the vote from proceeding.
“We cannot convert an office like this one, an office like the previously-existing Office of Independent Counsel, without creating a de facto fourth branch of government, fundamentally undermining the principle of separation of powers that is so core to our liberty,” Lee said. “On that basis … I object.”
The move, which prevented a Senate vote on the bill, blocked the legislation for the second time in a month.
This has been a consistent pattern: the Mueller investigation appears to be under attack by Trump, Mitch McConnell and his allies in the Senate refuse to do anything about it.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Friday suggested he would not allow a floor vote on legislation to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian election interference and alleged collusion by the Trump campaign.
“It’s not necessary. The Mueller investigation is not under threat,” McConnell told reporters.
On November 3, 2017, three Republican allies of Trump in Congress called upon Robert Mueller to resign, and Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly indicated tacit support for their reasoning:
Representatives Matt Gaetz, Andy Biggs and Louis Gohmert accused Mueller of a conflict of interest because he was director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation when former President Barack Obama’s administration approved an agreement allowing a Russian company to buy a Canadian company that owned 20 percent of U.S. uranium supplies.
President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans have been calling for an investigation into the Uranium One deal, amid news of Mueller’s first indictments of Trump associates as the special counsel investigates allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow.
The very next day, Mitch McConnell refused to support voting on a bill to protect the Mueller investigation:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Saturday that special counsel Robert Mueller is not in need of congressional protection from President Donald Trump.
“I don’t hear much pressure to pass anything,” McConnell told MSNBC’s Hugh Hewitt. “There’s been no indication that the President or the White House are not cooperating with the special counsel.”
Two months later, on January 25, 2018, a report came out that Donald Trump had ordered the White House Counsel Don McGahn (since fired by Trump for cooperating with Robert Mueller) to fire Robert Mueller:
The reports, first by the Times and then others, said Trump backed off on his attempt to fire the man who is investigating him, his election campaign’s Russian contacts and his firings of FBI Director James Comey and National Security Adviser Michael Flynn — but only after lawyer McGahn refused to relay his directive to the Justice Department and threatened to quit if Trump pressed the issue.
Five days later, after renewed calls from Democrats for Mitch McConnell to allow a vote on the bill to protect the Mueller investigation, Mitch McConnell again refused:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday dismissed Democratic calls to take up bipartisan legislation aimed at shielding Robert Mueller from being fired, saying that the special counsel “seems to need no protection.”
McConnell told reporters that he sees no imminent threat to Mueller’s job from President Donald Trump, who has publicly aired frustration with the special counsel’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and potential collusion with Trump campaign allies. Senators have pitched two bipartisan bills designed to prevent Mueller’s firing by Trump, but efforts to combine them have stalled as the GOP professes a continued lack of urgency.
At the moment, McConnell told reporters, “I’m unaware of any effort, official effort, on the part of the White House to undermine the special counsel. And so I don’t feel any particular need to reach out to protect someone who seems to need no protection.”
On April 10, 2018, news came out that Trump had again tried to fire Robert Mueller the preceding December:
Trump reportedly tried to fire Mueller after he became enraged over reports that the special counsel had subpoenaed Deutsche Bank for records on Trump’s finances.
A week later, Mitch McConnell again refused to bring the bill to protect the Mueller investigation up for a vote, even after two Republican Senators had signed onto the bill:
Sens. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican, and Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, introduced the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act, which protects Mueller, including ensure that the special counsel can only be fired for “good cause” by a senior Justice Department official.
McConnell said he won’t bring the legislation to the Senate floor.
“I’m the one who decides what we take to the floor, that’s my responsibility as the majority leader, we will not be having this on the floor of the Senate,” he said.