Having already fired three people involved in investigating corruption within the Trump administration, the White House and Republicans appear to be laying the foundation for firing yet another.
In a desperate attempt to delegitimize the investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with the Russian government, Donald Trump’s team and media surrogates are engaging in a coordinated smear campaign against special counsel Robert Mueller.
In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Jay Sekulow, an attorney who is part of Trump’s personal legal team, denied Trump lacked confidence in Mueller, even while arguing the exact opposite:
SEKULOW: Look at the issue and say then, What is the role of the special counsel here? And the special counsel allowed James Comey to testify. James Comey said he reviewed his testimony with the special counsel. And you wonder if — it’s unusual to me, and I’ve done a lot of cases for 40 years of practicing law almost, and at the highest levels, including the Supreme Court — that you have a situation — I think this is unprecedented, where the testimony was reviewed, it was then discussed, and then it was — part of that testimony, a large part of it was based on leaked information.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So are you suggesting there — are you suggesting there that you and the president and the president’s legal team don’t have confidence in Robert Mueller to conduct a fair investigation?
SEKULOW: No, what we’re saying, is, this, look. I mean, Marc Kasowitz is lead lawyer on this place and is in charge of the legal team has said clearly that he is putting forward a legal team and a legal defense that will address all of the issues. But I think that the unusual situation here — this is unprecedented in our history — is that the former executive, former FBI director, was the source of a leak. I mean, George, you know we’ve all been concerned about leaks, and here he was the source of that leak. And I mean, I think Dianne Feinstein was a bit shocked on this. I think others were. This was not a partisan issue. This was a leak of information.
Appearing on Fox News, Trump surrogate Newt Gingrich characterized the entire investigation as a “witch hunt.”
“You have a director of the FBI deliberately leaking in order to create a special counsel who we’re now supposed to believe is going to be this neutral figure,” he said. “I think that’s just nonsense.”
He also used Twitter to call Republicans to action and to assert they were “delusional” if they thought Mueller was “going to be fair”:
Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair. Look who he is hiring.check fec reports. Time to rethink.
— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) June 12, 2017
Gingrich’s recent comments are a complete 180 degree turn from his opinion about Mueller less than one month ago:
Robert Mueller is superb choice to be special counsel. His reputation is impeccable for honesty and integrity. Media should now calm down
— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) May 18, 2017
The campaign to discredit Mueller builds on the attempts by the GOP to assassinate the character of former FBI Director James Comey and originates from Trump’s personal team of defense attorneys. It would seem, given Trump’s pattern of firing those involved in investigating his closest circle, that they could be laying the groundwork for the eventual firing of Mueller as well.
Sally Yates, former acting attorney general of the United States, was fired after she notified the White House aware that then-National Security Adviser Mike Flynn was compromised by the Russian government. Preet Bharara, former U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York, was fired while leading an investigation into financial corruption within the Trump administration. Comey was fired while leading the investigation into the probe into Trump and Russia.
These types of attacks are nothing less than attacks on the rule of law itself. With this smear campaign, and the refusal of elected Republicans to condemn it, Trump and his party are yet again putting party before country.