Following the June 8 testimony of former FBI Director James Comey, questions have begun swirling over whether Robert Mueller, the special counsel assigned to the Russia investigation, faces a conflict of interest due to his long-time relations with Comey.
The Washington Post reported that Comey and Mueller have been described “as law enforcement twins and ‘brothers in arms.'” The two have had a close relationship that goes back at least to 2003. Fox News reported that Mueller once called Comey “one of the finest people I’ve ever met.”
Comey admitted under oath that he leaked a memo from a meeting with Trump through a friend to The New York Times, and did this with the intention of having a special counsel assigned to the Russia investigation.
The Washington Examiner reported on June 7 that Comey “closely coordinated” with Mueller, who had been named special counsel on May 17, on Comey’s testimony before the Senate intelligence committee.
Political observers are now pointing to staffing decisions Mueller has made as possibly showing a bias on the part of the special counsel.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich wrote on Twitter on June 12, “Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair.”
He pointed to people Mueller has hired to help on the case, which include at least three who have donated to Democratic presidential campaigns and organizations.
According to The Hill, these include Jeannie Rhee, who donated $5,400 to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign PAC (political action committee) Hillary for America; Andrew Weissmann, who gave six donations to PACs for Obama in 2008, totaling $4,700; and James Quarles, who has donated to more than 12 Democratic PACs since the late 1980s.
Rhee previously represented the Clinton Foundation as an attorney and worked on a case related to Clinton’s use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state.
“I don’t think donations are disqualifying at all, but if you represented the Clinton Foundation or Clinton herself, that would be a bit disturbing to me,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), during a Senate appropriations subcommittee hearing on June 13.
Graham indicated he would make his displeasure known to the Justice Department, asking Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein how he could do so.