House Democrats decry GOP efforts to discredit Robert Mueller’s election tampering probe

December 21, 2017 GMT

House Democrats decry GOP efforts to discredit Robert Mueller’s election tampering probe

WASHINGTON, D. C. - Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday attacked Republican efforts to claim bias in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

They said the false claims show Republicans fear the probe will show wrongdoing by President Donald Trump and his allies. They noted that Republicans backed the appointment of Mueller - a longtime Republican - until his investigation yielded indictments.

“What are they afraid of, and why don’t they focus on the big bear in the room: Russia?” Toledo Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur said at a news conference to air Democratic grievances. “Congress must protect the integrity of our justice system and follow the facts. The Mueller investigation does just that.”

Several Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee including Champaign County’s Jim Jordan have publicly stated they believe there was a conspiracy by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to keep Donald Trump from becoming president.

Rep. Jim Jordan says the FBI plotted to keep Donald Trump from becoming president

Jordan said the Judiciary Committee is preparing subpoenas for a Justice Department official with ties to a firm that produced a controversial research dossier about Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, as well as two FBI agents - Peter Strzok and Lisa Page - who were once part of Mueller’s special-counsel investigation of Trump. The pair - who were having an affair - had sent each other text messages that backed Clinton and were critical of Trump. They are no longer part of Mueller’s team.

On Thursday, 171 Democrats in the House of Representatives including Kaptur, Marcia Fudge of Warrensville Heights, Tim Ryan of the Niles area and Joyce Beatty of Columbus signed a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to back Mueller, and urge that his investigation continue “unfettered by political influence or threats to his authority.”

The letter said that despite Mueller’s long record of integrity and the clear progress being made in his investigation “the right-wing media, some Republican Members of Congress and Donald Trump, himself, have attempted to advance a false narrative that Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation is biased, and some have advocated for Mr. Mueller’s removal.”

Watch our press conference now ?? https://t.co/vf4oA5CebS— Marcy Kaptur (@RepMarcyKaptur) December 21, 2017

The fact that Mueller promptly removed Strzok from his investigation after he learned that Strzok sent text messages that criticized Trump shows “Mueller’s integrity as well as his desire and commitment to conduct an investigation that is beyond reproach,” the letter said.

“You must not allow the targets of the investigation, or issues being investigated, to escape thorough independent inquiry through the removal or hindrance of the Special Counsel,” the letter concluded. “We thank you for your careful attention to this letter, and we stand ready to support you in upholding the rule of law.”

The Democrats noted Republicans said they were pleased by the appointment of Mueller until his investigation secured indictments and guilty pleas. They said GOP efforts to undermine the investigation show Republicans are afraid of what it might uncover.

“Of course not!” Republican Rep. Jim Jordan says he has not coordinated with White House or Fox News about talking points on Mueller investigation pic.twitter.com/JF1f4jGPWZ— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) December 21, 2017

Their news conference occurred on the same day that the House Judiciary and Oversight committees conducted closed-session interviews with FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, whom Jordan and other Republicans have accused of anti-Trump bias.

The Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat, Jerrold Nadler of New York, told reporters he couldn’t discuss what McCabe said in the confidential meeting, but said the direction of the Republican’s’ questions “would not surprise you.”

Nadler said the GOP allegations did not involve investigatory misconduct - just questions about the private political opinions of particular investigators, which he described as “irrelevant” because law enforcement personnel are entitled to their political opinions and the assumption that they won’t allow them to interfere with their investigations.

“It would be highly improper ... if the FBI were to vet which FBI agents work on an investigation based on their personal political opinions,” Nadler said.

When asked about Jordan’s opinions on a Democratic anti-Trump conspiracy at the FBI, Kaptur said Jordan “would be better suited to pay attention to what Russia did in the last election and keep his focus on the real enemy and not threaten our justice system.”

In a statement issued through his office, Jordan responded that the “investigation isn’t about partisanship or politics, it’s about getting answers for the American people about whether or not people at the FBI and DOJ’s highest levels coordinated with one political party to thwart the other. If that happened, it’s as wrong as it gets.”

https://t.co/FzcXiIpp3C— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) December 20, 2017