Senate Majority Leader McConnell said yesterday that he doesn’t support any of the bipartisan legislation that would protect special counsel Mueller from being fired by President Trump:
“There’s been no indication that the President or the White House are not cooperating with the special counsel. I think the view up here is let him do his job.”
But what about protecting the special counsel from you?
A member of your House Judiciary Committee, Republican Rep. DeSantis, introduced an amendment in August that would have ended funding to Mueller’s office after six months and curtailed its scope to events that took place after Donald Trump launched his campaign in June 2015. If the amendment had passed, it would have undermined last week’s Manafort and Gates indictments for years of tax fraud and money laundering that started before they joined the Trump campaign.
Former White House senior advisor Steve Bannon has been advocating for a reprisal of the amendment, discussing it with Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham. According to Vanity Fair, Bannon spoke with the President after last Monday’s indictments, suggesting ways to hinder Mueller:
“Mueller shouldn’t be allowed to be a clean shot on goal. He must be contested and checked. Right now he has unchecked power.”
Now other Republican members of your House Judiciary Committee are attempting to obstruct the Mueller investigation. Reps. Gaetz, Biggs, and Gohmert are introducing a new resolution, arguing that special counsel Mueller “must step down immediately” because he is “hopelessly compromised.”
They claim that, after being appointed FBI Director by President Bush in 2001, Mueller remained during President Obama’s first term and so was therefore involved in the administration’s approval of the Russian company Rosatom’s purchase of controlling stocks in the Canadian company Uranium One in 2010. This is untrue. The Uranium One deal was overseen by a total of fourteen agencies, including Homeland Security and the National Security Council. The FBI was not involved.
Donald Trump said in June 2016 campaign speech:
“Hillary Clinton’s State Department approved the transfer of 20% of America’s uranium holdings to Russia, while nine investors in the deal funneled $145 million to the Clinton Foundation.”
His campaign repeated the accusation in October TV ads:
“So Hillary, if Russia is such a threat, why did you sell them 20% of our uranium? Are you a liar, or a traitor, or both?”
According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the uranium could not be exported and remains under U.S. control. It can only be sold to U.S. nuclear power plants, amounting to roughly 6% of our domestic uranium production. According to Assistant Secretary of State Jose Fernandez, who approved the deal on behalf of the State Department, Secretary Clinton was not involved in the decision. Uranium One founder Frank Giustra did donate $131 million to the Clinton Foundation, but he was no longer a part of the company and had divested all of his stocks in 2007.
Snopes.com rated the Trump campaign’s accusation as “False.” Politicofact.com rated it “Mostly False.” The Washington Post Fact Checker gave it “Four Pinocchios,” its worst rating. Regardless, if you and your House Judiciary Committee or any other Congressional committees wish to investigate these matters further, or if the Attorney General wishes to appoint another special counsel, I see no reason not to. The more oversight the better.
But there is nothing regarding the Uranium One deal that compromises special counsel Mueller and his investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election. Like Steve Bannon, the Republicans on your House Judiciary Committee wish to obstruct not expand government transparency by interfering. While unprincipled, this is also a bad political strategy. Special counsel Mueller is significantly more popular than President Trump. Mueller has an approval rating of 58%, while the President’s is only 39%. And Mueller’s disapproval is 28%, while the President’s is 57%–more than double.
How do you predict American voters will perceive your Committee members’ attempts to stop Mueller? According to a CNN poll in September, the Republican Party dropped to an approval rating of 29%, its lowest since the poll began in 1992 when you were first taking office. You have literally never been less popular than you are right now. Do you think these Republican resolutions from your Committee are going to raise your approval or drop it still further?