What Robert Mueller needs to fear
Special counsels, with their unlimited budgets and access to grand juries, can be fearsomely arbitrary. But in the case of Robert Mueller and his staff of Democrat donors, there is competition that threatens to show up any bias toward hunting only Republicans. Given the fact that this is primarily a political, not a legal tussle, Mueller should be worried about his reputation.
William McGurn of the Wall Street Journal explains:
Like the special prosecutor, Mr. Nunes and his committee have been investigating the 2016 presidential campaign. Unlike the special prosecutor, Mr. Nunes has unearthed hard evidence about both Russian influence on the election and domestic spying on Trump campaign officials. And if the committee gets the documents it has been demanding for months about the Federal Bureau of Investigation's handling of the salacious Christopher Steele dossier, this week may end even more explosively than it's begun.
Despite the MSM hype, Mueller's first indictments have nothing to do with Russia or the election, which does seem to indicate desperation to find a crime – any crime – among the Trump staffers. This is the definition of a witch hunt. An indictment of Tony Podesta might help alleviate the partisan nature of the witch hunt, but it still strays from the mandate Mueller received.
So what has Mr. Nunes's committee found? Turns out that in the Obama years, especially in 2016, officials made many requests to unmask the identities of Americans, including Trump campaign officials, who were caught up in foreign surveillance.
When asked about it by PBS's Judy Woodruff back in March, Obama national security adviser Susan Rice claimed she was "surprised" and told Ms. Woodruff "I know nothing about this." Under oath before Mr. Nunes's committee, Ms. Rice's memory returned, and she admitted of unmasking senior figures in the Trump campaign.
Meanwhile the committee learned that Ms. Rice's colleague at the United Nations, Ambassador Samantha Power, had made hundreds of unmasking requests. During Ms. Power's appearance before the committee, she oddly claimed others were doing much of the asking – even though her name was on these requests. Did anyone outside the House committee think to ask why a Democratic White House was so free with such sensitive info in an election year?
The unmasking of Trump aides could amount to use of the NSA's universal telecom surveillance capability to spy on the rival party's campaign, a scandal unprecedented in the history of the Republic. Former Trump campaign official Michael Caputo avers that he has been told by intelligence sources that hundreds of Trump campaign figures were unmasked in this espionage effort. The Steele dossier seems to be at the heart of the FISA Court reversing itself and permitting the unmasking, a request it had earlier denied, prior to the production of the Steele dossier.
So, too, the very special counsel appointment offering employment to Mueller and his Democrat activist employees may have been a result of the phony Steele dossier:
Messrs. Manafort and Gates may well be guilty of everything they've been charged with. But this week, thanks to a congressional committee's persistence, we may find out the answer to what surely is a much more combustible question: whether a presidential campaign was able to leverage opposition research based on Russian disinformation to bring about an FBI investigation into its rival's campaign.