Despite obvious progress and evidence of real crimes, a group of Republican congressmen intend to put on a public spectacle to appeal to the deepest cult of personality elements in their party, by calling for the ouster of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas, and Jim Jordan of Ohio will use the House floor as a platform to raise awareness on the resolution they introduced last week, which claims Mueller’s impartiality is compromised because of a separate investigation of Russian nationals during his tenure as FBI director.
Mueller has been working slowly, carefully, and mostly behind the scenes. In the moments when his activities have emerged into the public—as with the recent indictments of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, along with the admission of lying to the FBI by George Papadopoulos—what the documents reveal is a methodical advance, with every “t” carefully crossed, every “i” explicitly dotted. And a careful reading of the documents is virtually the only way to track Mueller’s activities, because he’s been the least flashy, least self-aggrandizing, lowest profile special investigator certainly in the last thirty years.
But while Mueller hasn’t been campaigning to hold his position, Republicans are increasingly engaged in a project to bring him down. And, of course, the heart of this project is an attack on … Hillary Clinton.
Gaetz and his colleagues who signed on to the resolution say that because Mueller did not file charges in the investigation of the sale of Uranium One, a Canadian energy company that held some operations in the US, to a Russian nuclear energy firm, he should not be overseeing the investigation of Russian interference in the election.
The sale of controlling interest in Uranium One, which passed from the control of an Asian consortium to a Russian corporation, took place eight years ago. And was investigated … eight years ago. Though Republicans have pointed at big donations from owners of Uranium One to the Clinton Foundation and maintained the fiction that “Hillary Clinton gave 20 percent of America’s uranium to the Russians,” and used this fantasy as a justification for launching a fresh set of congressional investigations meant to distract from Mueller’s activities and muddy the severity of the charges now coming forward. Fox News is certainly lending a hand.
The rebound accusations which have emerged over the past week that Mrs. Clinton’s campaign hired a British intelligence officer and Fusion GPS (a Washington-based intelligence firm with ties to Russian interests) to create a foreign-sourced dossier on Trump are far more blatant, and thus far more serious than Trump Tower chit-chat.
The idea that Clinton hiring a US-based opposition research company, that in turn hired a British agent to look into Trump’s activities in Russia, is “far more serious” than sitting down in Trump Tower to talk over just what the Russian government wanted in exchange for the emails it stole from Democratic sources goes beyond silly. But Republicans don’t care. Their only intent with both the Fusion and Uranium One stories is to generate an “everybody does it” impression that makes Mueller’s careful investigation seem like more of the same.
“Uranium deal to Russia, with Clinton help and Obama Administration knowledge, is the biggest story that Fake Media doesn’t want to follow!” Trump wrote on Twitter in October.
The company operating as Uranium One wasn’t the same company, and didn’t have the same owners, as the one that had made donations to the Clinton Foundation. So there was no reason for Hillary Clinton to do them any favors.
Approval of the sale was run past a committee with nine members, of which the State Department was only one. Not only did Clinton not sit on that committee personally, but none of those members had veto power, and the whole of the committee was only making a recommendation, not a ruling.
If Hillary Clinton had said “no,” the deal would have certainly gone ahead anyway, because everyone else on the committee voted in favor. If the whole committee had recommended against the deal, it still would have been likely to pass, because there’s no export license involved. Not one ounce of the uranium in question is allowed to leave the United States.
And somewhere, Robert Mueller is still going about his steady work, though the news that Louie Gohmert is after him must surely make him … smile.