Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Or, as it is interpreted in English: Who watches the watchmen?
Robert Mueller, a former Director of the FBI, was appointed to serve as a special counsel for the Department of Justice to investigate “any links and/or coordination between Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of Donald Trump.” The selection of Mueller was an inspired choice. During his tenure as the second-longest-serving FBI director, he garnered respect from Republicans and Democrats alike. He was known to be incredibly smart, a great leader, and politically dispassionate, with a personal distaste for partisan games.
But the last two weeks have brought a flurry of revelations about the political leanings of Mueller’s team, creating questions as to their ability to set aside partisan bias in the search for truth. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board breaks down the latest problem:
Wednesday’s revelations—they’re coming almost daily—include the Justice Department’s release of 2016 text messages to and from Peter Strzok, the FBI counterintelligence agent whom Mr. Mueller demoted this summer. The texts, which he exchanged with senior FBI lawyer Lisa Page, contain expletive-laced tirades against Mr. Trump. Such Trump hatred is no surprise and not by itself disqualifying. More troubling are texts that suggest that some FBI officials may have gone beyond antipathy to anti-Trump plotting.
“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office—that there’s no way [Trump] gets elected—but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” Mr. Strzok wrote Ms. Page in an Aug. 15, 2016 text. He added: “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”
Strzok, a former deputy to the assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI, worked on the probe into Hillary Clinton’s email.
Another text message between the two appears to show efforts to conceal some of their conversations about the Clinton investigation.
“So look, you say we text on that phone when we talk about Hillary because it can’t be traced,” Page wrote to Strzok. “You were just venting, [because] you feel bad that you’re gone so much but that can’t be helped right now.”
Disturbingly, Strzok was the official who changed the words “grossly negligent,” which implies a crime, to “extremely careless” which isn’t a recognizable legal standard. Thankfully, Mueller reassigned Strzok to the FBI’s human resources division after the email exchanges with Page were discovered.
Strzok isn’t the only example of Mueller’s bad judgment in this case. Also on his investigative team are Andrew Weissman, who praised Obama-administration holdover Sally Yates for refusing to carry out President Trump’s immigration order.
“I am so proud,” Weissman emailed Yates. “And in awe. Thank you so much. All my deepest respects.”
Then there is Jeannie Rhee, who was the personal attorney of Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s national-security adviser. Rhee was also a significant donor to the Clinton Foundation as well as a donor to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
And then there’s Bruce Ohr, the former associate deputy attorney general who met with Christopher Steele, the British spy who authored the now-infamous (for being factually incorrect) “dossier” on President Trump. The meeting is disappointing, though unsurprising given that his wife, Nellie Ohr, worked at Fusion GPS, the liberal opposition research firm that funded and distributed the anti-Trump dossier.
For all the warranted sturm and drang over the questionable politicization of Mueller’s investigate team, it’s telling that Mueller has only issued three charged: Michael Flynn for false statements, George Papadopoulos for false statements and Paul Manafort for working as unregistered agents for Ukraine. All of these are a far cry from any hint of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
If this team of anti-Trumpists is struggling to find anything resembling dirt on the sitting president then Americans can rest easy, the swamp is as clean as its ever been.