On Monday, Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign manager, and Rick Gates, a longtime business associate of Manafort, turned themselves into the FBI and made their first appearance in the Federal District Court in Washington, D.C. The two men pleaded not guilty to all 12 charges, which included conspiracy against the United States, making false statements, and conspiracy to launder money.
The 30-page indictment against Manafort and his associate made no mention of alleged Russian collusion by the Trump campaign. The indictment came from former FBI Director Robert Mueller (shown), the special counsel who was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to oversee the investigation into “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump, and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”
Although it remains to be seen what, if any, evidence Mueller will uncover relative to the allegations of Russian collusion, Mueller himself ought to recuse himself from the investigation.
FBI and court documents reveal that the Obama-era FBI (then under the “leadership” of now-ousted director James Comey, Mueller’s successor at the FBI) were of aware that “Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act,” The Hill reported.
As a result, House Republicans announced that two panels — the House Intelligence Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee — would jointly investigate the Obama administration’s October 2010 approval of a deal that gave Rosatom — Russia’s nuclear energy agency — the licenses to mine approximately 20 percent of the United States’ uranium extraction capacity.
Better late than never, Representative Peter King (R-N.Y.) said in a news conference: “It’s important we find out why that deal went through.”
There is also the revelation that Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee secretly funded the highly sensationalized, now-discredited “dirty dossier” alleging still-unproven Trump ties to Russia.
According to the Washington Post, both the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid $5.6 million and $3.6 million, respectively, in legal and consulting fees to the firm Perkins Coie, which hired Fusion GPS, which in turn hired Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer with ties to both the FBI and the U.S. intelligence community, to compile the dossier, which relied primarily on Kremlin sources.
Through Perkins Coie, the Clinton campaign and the DNC continued funding Fusion GPS’s shadowy research of Trump's supposed ties to Russia up until just days before the election.
Steele also shared some of his research findings with the then Obama/Comey-led FBI, which in the summer of 2016 had launched its own counterintelligence investigation into alleged Trump ties with the Kremlin.
The Post also reported that after the election, “the FBI agreed to pay Steele to continue gathering intelligence about Trump and Russia, but the bureau pulled out of the arrangement after Steele was publicly identified in news reports.”
The news of the revelation that the dossier was funded by both the Clinton campaign and the DNC “rocked the political world,” as New York Post columnist and Fox News contributor Michael Goodwin put it, and understandably sent Hillary Clinton into hiding.
“The Clinton connection, denied by the campaign for a year, throws more doubt on the entire Trump-Russia-collusion narrative and shows that Clinton worked with Russian officials to meddle in the election,” Goodwin writes in the New York Post.
In light of all this, it’s evident that any honest probe into Russian collusion and meddling in the election would have to be expanded to include the Obama White House and Justice Department as well as both the Hillary Clinton State Department and presidential campaign, and even the DNC.
For more than four years, Mueller served as FBI director under President Obama and had a close relationship with his successor, James Comey. Seeing as Mueller cannot be expected to investigate his former bosses and close colleagues, he should step down and recuse himself from the investigation just as Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself.
Mueller has already requested that the Trump administration and the Justice Department give him any and all related documents relating to President Trump’s decision to fire Comey. Writing for both the New York Post and Fox News, Michael Goodwin states, “That conflict has morphed into several more that are fixable only by resignation.”
If this investigation is to proceed, then it cannot do so objectively with someone, such as Mueller, who is close to potential parties that may be — and in fact, should be — investigated.
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