According to an exclusive report from the Daily Caller, Representative Brian Babin (R-TX) has apparently circulated a letter in DC asking for congressmen to sign onto an effort to force special counsel Robert Mueller testify publicly in an open congressional hearing. Among other things, Babin says that Congress has a right to question the independence of Mueller’s investigative staff and the scope of his investigation.
Babin’s letter, which was obtained by TheDC, was sent out to congressmen Thursday and asks for members to cosign a letter he plans to send to House Judiciary chairman Bob Goodlatte and Senate Judiciary chairman Chuck Grassley.
“Every nominee for United States Attorney must be confirmed by the Senate, a process that brings to the forefront any concerns regarding the nominee’s ability to hold their position in a decent and impartial manner. However, as Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III and his team of lawyers investigate our very own president, we as a nation wait in the dark with very little information about those given this great authority,” Babin wrote in the letter to his fellow representatives.
Babin writes in the letter that there are “serious concerns” about conflicts of interest with regard to members of Mueller’s counsel who donated “generously” to Democrats or even represented Clinton herself.
“In addition, this investigation has the potential to drag on for months, or even years, and cost millions in taxpayer dollars,” Babin added.
Babin’s goal is to have one or both of the judiciary committees “bring Mr. Mueller and his team out of the shadows” to answer questions about the “potential expenses incurred by Mr. Mueller, the scope of his investigation and the selection of his special council team.”
Of course, this request from Babin comes as people have continued to question the impartiality of several of Mueller’s early, notable hires, many of whom have been contributors to Hillary’s and/or Obama’s previous campaigns, with one, Jeannie Rhee, actually represented the Clinton Foundation.
Michael Dreeben, who serves as the Justice Department’s deputy solicitor general, is working on a part-time basis for Mueller, The Washington Post reported Friday.
Dreeben donated $1,000 dollars to Hillary Clinton’s Senate political action committee (PAC), Friends of Hillary, while she ran for public office in New York. Dreeben did so while he served as the deputy solicitor general at the Justice Department.
Jeannie Rhee, another member of Mueller’s team, donated $5,400 to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign PAC Hillary for America.
Andrew Weissmann, who serves in a top post within the Justice Department’s fraud practice, is the most senior lawyer on the special counsel team, Bloomberg reported. He served as the FBI’s general counsel and the assistant director to Mueller when the special counsel was FBI director.
Before he worked at the FBI or Justice Department, Weissman worked at the law firm Jenner & Block LLP, during which he donated six times to political action committees for Obama in 2008 for a total of $4,700.
James Quarles, who served as an assistant special prosecutor on the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, has donated to over a dozen Democratic PACs since the late 1980s. He was also identified by the Washington Post as a member of Mueller’s team.
Starting in 1987, Quarles donated to Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis’s presidential PAC, Dukakis for President. Since then, he has also contributed in 1999 to Sen. Al Gore’s run for the presidency, then-Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) presidential bid in 2005, Obama’s presidential PAC in 2008 and 2012, and Clinton’s presidential pac Hillary for America in 2016.
Meanwhile, as we pointed out yesterday, Mueller has also started to go after the family members of anyone surrounding the Trump campaign with Paul Manafort’s son-in-law, Jeffrey Yohai, being the latest target. The strategy, more or less, entails digging up whatever dirt can be found on those in Trump’s orbit and then using that dirt to coerce potential witnesses into cooperation. That said, the aggressive tactics have left many questioning whether the scope of Mueller’s investigation is becoming far too wide-ranging.
“Manafort is — on many levels — a key subject of the investigation and someone who might be leveraged to share information about others,” said one Washington-based white-collar attorney with a client involved in the Russia probe.
The approach involves finding a suspected crime — false statements on tax returns or loan applications, for example — and then offering leniency on prosecution in exchange for cooperation. “They always start with the people on the low end of the ladder and try to get information on someone high up on the ladder,” said William Jeffress, a white-collar attorney who represented Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, in the President George W. Bush-era Valerie Plame leak investigation.
Mueller would clearly have jurisdiction over any real estate dealings between Yohai, Manafort and Russians, Jeffress said. In addition, he could press Yohai for details on what he knows about Manafort’s role in the campaign.
Of course, we’re sure that the mere suggestion that Republicans stand up against an investigation that has clearly morphed into an all out “witch hunt,” and one which is backed by the full capabilities and support of the intelligence community, will just be way too controversial for some mainstreamers to support.
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