‘I Have A Job To Do’: Trump And His Fox Allies Won’t Scare Mueller Away From Pursuing Justice
As FBI director, Robert Mueller was tough but respected. “He had an intensity that you would see of a prosecutor in court moving a case forward. He would be cross-examining you. You were the witness and you were going to get cross-examined until he was satisfied…. You better be on your best game,” said Ron Hosko, who worked at the FBI under Mueller’s entire tenure, including as an assistant director in charge of the criminal investigative division.
Now as special counsel, Mueller is facing efforts to discredit him and his team. One Republican in the House of Representatives proposed an amendment to stem funding to Mueller six months after its passage and narrow the scope of the investigation to matters that occurred after June 2015. Three more House Republicans introduced a nonbinding resolution claiming Mueller “is compromised and should resign.”
The attacks have intensified in the past week and a half, since Mueller’s office announced a charge against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, to which Flynn has pleaded guilty.
Trump has called the investigation a “witch hunt” and he has in recent weeks called the FBI’s reputation “in tatters” and the United States justice system “a joke” and a “laughing stock.”
In July, Trump told The New York Times that he would demand the firing of Mueller if the special counsel investigated subjects too outside of the Russia issue.
Today, Axios reported that the president’s lawyers want a second special counsel to investigate Mueller.
Trump and his supporters, as well as his allies on Fox News, have claimed that Mueller is conflicted, saying that he has a “close friendship” with former FBI Director James Comey, whose firing by Trump is currently under investigation. They have also pointed out that he led the FBI while Hillary Clinton’s State Department helped approve the Russian purchase of a Canadian uranium mining company. The Wall Street Journal editorial board has at least twice called for his ousting.
But those who know Mueller said it is unlikely that the criticisms will rattle him.
“I suspect that he is not deaf or blind to those criticisms. However, I see Mueller as looking forward and saying, ‘I have a job to do. I was appointed for a purpose, and I’m going to fulfill that purpose.’” Hosko, the former FBI assistant director, said of his old boss. “And I think that’s how he viewed his FBI,” he added.
J. Michael Luttig, a former United States Court of Appeals judge and now executive vice president and general counsel at Boeing, who described Mueller as a close friend, told Newsweek that “Mueller is the most seasoned law enforcement figure in Washington, so I guess it just rolls off.”
“It’s all political nonsense, and it’s not affecting him at all. His focus is on the investigation,” Frank Montoya a former FBI agent and national counterintelligence official, said.
Others agreed. “Bob Mueller’s mind is 100 percent on the task, and I don’t think there’s anything that the rhetoric is going to do to distract him from his job,” Gary Bald, who left the FBI in 2006 as Mueller’s executive assistant director for the national security branch, according to Newsweek.
“Bob Mueller’s just a perfect guy to pull all the facts together. He’s not going to be swayed by anything that is going to come out from the president or the media or the Hill.” Bald said.
Bald added, “He is, in my view, untouchable by the turmoil.”
Mueller, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, has been the only director in the modern era of the FBI to serve all 10 years of the term. In fact, he served even longer. In 2011, when his tenure was set to expire, Congress introduced legislation to allow him to serve an additional two years. The legislation passed unanimously and former President Barack Obama signed it into law.
He’s respected and tough. And that’s what scares Donald Trump.