‘I think people should view with some skepticism the notion that gets breathlessly reported every week that the Mueller investigation is coming to an end…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) In late February, CNN broke the story that the investigation being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia might wrap up any day.
But as the probe drags on, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, suggested another possibility in a recent interview with Fox News.
Jordan said the dismissal of two key investigators at the start of March—taken as a sign of closure—may have been due to their bias, the Washington Examiner reported.
Jordan, who is the ranking minority member of the House Oversight Committee and a prominent figure in the conservative Freedom Caucus, joined Rep. Mark Meadows, R-NC, in penning a March 1 letter to Attorney General William Barr, voicing concerns over Mueller staffers Andrew Weissmann and Zainab Ahmad.
“The reason Ms. Ahmad might have left is the fact that the report is coming soon. We all kind of suspect that it is,” Jordan told Fox News. “It also might be a letter that Mr. Meadows and I sent to Attorney General Barr just 19 days ago.”
The congressmen said that the two high-level prosecutors had undisclosed contact, prior to the opening of the investigation, with a key witness—then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr—as part of a small circle of colleagues at the Department of Justice.
“This development raises questions about the impartiality and independence of Weissmann and Ahmad as senior members of the Special Counsel’s investigation,” wrote Jordan and Meadows in the letter to Barr.
Ohr was revealed to have stepped outside the scope of his duties in acting as an intermediary between the FBI and political research/lobbying firm Fusion GPS, helping to launch an investigation into Trump that ultimately paved the way for Mueller’s probe.
The Fusion firm—where Ohr’s wife, Nellie, happened to work as a Russian expert—compiled the since-debunked Steele Dossier, which was originally commissioned as opposition research by the Hillary Clinton campaign and based on information from questionable, unvetted sources within the Kremlin.
Whatever the reason behind the two recent departures, political watchers have waited with bated breath for the potentially game-changing Mueller report.
Even Trump and his new attorney general’s office seemed to be making preparations for the release.
The final report would go directly to Barr, including recommendations from Mueller as to how to proceed with further investigative or legal action. Barr would then have the option to summarize it for Congress or to release as much as he deemed fit.
However, with notoriously partisan media leakers like Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., leading the House Intelligence Committee, that would almost certainly result in the public disclosure of even classified details.
As Barr’s Justice Department internally debated how much of the report to provide to Congress—which, in a rare bipartisan move, firmly demanded that they receive the whole thing—Trump this week also came out supporting the full public release of the report.
Meanwhile, indications pointed to the possibility that Mueller may yet have some work to do.
Reuters reported that the former FBI director is still investigating leads in at least three areas:
- the interactions between Paul Manafort and a Russian business associate
- the role Roger Stone played in the Wikileaks release of hacked Clinton campaign emails
- the claims that Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey a few months into his presidency may have constituted obstruction of justice
More cynically, perhaps, Reuters observed that funding for the special counsel’s office—which in FY2018 spent around $9 million—is approved through the end of the fiscal year, on Sept. 30.
Politico said also that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who directly oversaw the bulk of the nearly two-year-long investigation, has temporarily delayed his departure plans.
One former Obama-era U.S. Attorney, Preet Bharara, who was fired two months into Trump’s term after refusing to resign his post, also remained skeptical about the investigation nearing its end, reported the Examiner.
In a recent interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” while noting that he was now an outsider with no privileged information, Bharara said, “I think people should view with some skepticism the notion that gets breathlessly reported every week that the Mueller investigation is coming to an end.”