Home / World News / How the campaign against the Mueller probe has taken hold – The Denver Post

How the campaign against the Mueller probe has taken hold – The Denver Post

For months, efforts to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller III’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign flickered at the fringes of political debate.

Now, the allegation that FBI and Justice Department officials are part of a broad conspiracy against President Donald Trump is suddenly center stage, amplified by conservative activists, GOP lawmakers, right-leaning media and the president himself. The clamor has become a sustained backdrop to the special counsel investigation, with congressional committees grilling a parade of law enforcement officials in recent days.

“Until recently, it has been a lonely battle,” said Tom Fitton, whose conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch has helped drive the charges by unearthing internal Justice Department documents. “Our concerns about Mueller are beginning to take hold.”

The partisan atmosphere is a sharp departure from near-universal support that greeted Mueller’s selection as special counsel in May – and threatens to shadow his investigation’s eventual findings. Trump, while vowing to cooperate with the special counsel, has also encouraged attacks on Mueller’s credibility, tweeting that the investigation is “the greatest Witch Hunt in U.S. political history.”

The controversy, percolating for months, escalated dramatically in early December with the revelation of text messages in which one of Mueller’s former top investigators, Peter Strzok, called Trump an “idiot” last year and predicted Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton would win the election in a landslide.

As the deputy head of counterintelligence at the FBI, Strzok played a critical role in both the Clinton email investigation last year and the Russia probe before he was removed by Mueller this summer.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who met with Fitton earlier this year and has for months alleged that the FBI was working against Trump’s election, said in an interview that many of his Republican colleagues now share his view that there has been an orchestrated effort against Trump.

“I’ve had all kinds of Republicans come up to me and say, ‘This is unbelievable, it looks like the FBI was trying to put its finger on the scale here,’ ” Jordan said.

Among current and former law enforcement officials, the public attacks on the FBI are seen as an indirect way of trying to discredit Mueller and blunt future findings he may issue, a view shared by many Democratic lawmakers.

“There is a concerted push from the White House … and their allies to bring the investigations to a halt,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in an interview. “They are also trying to attack Mueller’s credibility and the credibility of the FBI, so that whatever Mueller finds can be rejected … as a fake.”

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