Former FBI Director James Comey misled the American people during last year’s presidential campaign when he referred to the Clinton email scandal as a “matter,” not an investigation. He did it willfully. He did it intentionally. And he did it at the direction of Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Mr. Comey misled the American people in the early weeks of the Trump administration by furthering the perception that President Trump was under investigation, when in fact he was not. He again did this willfully and intentionally.
Comey recently admitted that, after being fired from the FBI, he had a friend leak an internal FBI document to the New York Times detailing a conversation Comey had with President Trump. Comey testified under oath that he ordered the leak to help create public momentum for the appointment of a special counsel, which we now know is Comey’s mentor and predecessor, Robert Mueller.
The American people want justice to be blind. They want equal justice and equal protection for everyone. But Mr. Comey’s actions continue to call his impartiality, and the impartiality of the Holder and Lynch Justice departments, into question.
On May 7, 2014, the House of Representatives passed a resolution calling for a special counsel to investigate the IRS targeting of conservatives for their political beliefs. Comey and Attorney General Eric Holder blocked the appointment. This despite the fact that the lead investigator they assigned to the case, Barbara Bosserman, was a max-out contributor to President Obama’s reelection campaign.
This is the type of unequal justice that Americans despise. No special counsel in the IRS targeting investigation. No special counsel for the Clinton email investigation. But if it’s about protecting Comey’s reputation and hurting President Trump, then of course there has to be a special counsel.
Throughout 2015 and 2016 there were calls from Congress for a special counsel in the Clinton email scandal. Again the Justice Department refused, even after it was revealed that Attorney General Loretta Lynch met privately with Bill Clinton less than a week before the FBI interviewed Hillary Clinton. No special counsel was established, even after some unusual Justice Department immunity deals were revealed, including those designed to protect Secretary Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills, and Bryan Pagliano, who set up the email server in the first place.
This is the type of unequal justice that Americans despise. No special counsel in the IRS targeting investigation. No special counsel for the Clinton email investigation. But if it’s about protecting Mr. Comey’s reputation and hurting President Trump, then of course there has to be a special counsel.
We appreciate Mr. Mueller’s service to our country, but his past testimony as FBI director before the House Judiciary Committee did not inspire confidence about his impartiality. Just four weeks after the treasury inspector general released the report on the IRS targeting scandal and the Justice Department began their “investigation” into the matter, Mr. Mueller could not answer even the most basic questions about the investigation. He was asked: “Who is the lead agent?” “How many agents have been assigned to the case?” And, “Have any victims been interviewed?” His responses were, “I don’t know,” “I don’t know,” and “I don’t know.”
Investigating the targeting of conservatives by the IRS, which was the biggest story in the news at the time, was clearly not a priority for Mr. Mueller. As FBI director, he didn’t even know who was doing what.
But as special counsel investigating the Trump administration? You’d better believe Mr. Mueller has handpicked the exact team he wants.
James Quarles, a partner at WilmerHale, was a $10,000 contributor to House and Senate Democrats. He also has a long history of supporting Democratic presidential candidates, including Dukakis, Gore, Kerry, Obama and Clinton.
Jeannie Rhee, a senior adviser to former Attorney General Eric Holder, was an Obama and Clinton supporter. She also represented the Clinton foundation in litigation, and personally represented Hillary Clinton.
Andrew Weissmann, a former Justice Department official, was also an Obama contributor.
In fact, of the dozen people named to Mueller’s investigation team so far, none have similarly supported Republican presidential candidates.
The House has a responsibility to defend the deeply-held American principle of equal justice under the law. That’s why we believe it’s time for the House to have hearings on the troubling matter of the motivation and organization of this investigation.
The past actions of Mr. Mueller and Mr. Comey as part of the Holder and Lynch justice departments call into question their impartiality. If this investigation is to be taken seriously, it is important that the American people get the answers they deserve.