In a surprise move the U.S. Department of Justice via acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein named Robert Mueller, a former FBI head, as special counsel to ostensibly oversee the bureau’s probe into Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 election.
The White House was given only about 30 minutes warning before the announcement was made. Mueller’s appointment was "not a finding that crimes have been committed," Rosenstein said in a statement.
But, according to former FBI Assistant Director, James Kallstrom, there are serious crimes that the special counsel must focus on. "This [the Russia investigation] is a foreign intelligence investigation and collusion isn’t actually a crime," Kallstrom said in an interview on the Fox Business Network.
"The fifth column certainly is doing a good job of keeping it the talk of the town, but what about the thousands of people that were apparently unmasked? That lost their Fourth Amendment rights? A good portion of them probably. What about the leaks? What is going on with these other investigations?"
Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice refused a request to testify before the Senate on allegations of unmasking Trump transition officials, and in Kallstrom’s opinion, "the unmasking could be one of the biggest scandals ever in the United States."
The unlawful surveillance and unmasking allegations lead to the door of Mueller's former boss then-President Barack Obama.
Mueller was named director of the FBI on Sept. 4, 2001, by President George W. Bush, a week before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. He extended his 10-year term at the request of Obama. This made Mueller the longest-serving director since J. Edgar Hoover.
Mueller's handling of the IRS targeting scandal and his close relationship with former FBI director James Comey are inconsistent with the objective role the law seeks for a special counsel.
In June of 2013 then FBI Director Mueller gave testimony on the IRS investigation into the tax agency’s targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups.
When questioned by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, Mueller appeared clueless about the specifics surrounding the IRS probe. "You’ve had a month now to investigate," Jordan said. "This has been the biggest story in the country and you can’t even tell me who the lead investigator is. You can’t tell me the actions the inspector general took which are not typically how investigations are done. You can’t tell me if that’s appropriate or not. This is not speculation. This is what happened."
When Jordan asked once again, "Can you tell me who the lead investigator is?" Mueller responded, "Off the top of my head, no."
The then-FBI director was also questioned by lawmakers about the federal government’s surveillance programs, another area he is likely to investigate in his current role of special counsel.
Surveillance was a hot news topic at the time since only a week earlier contractor Edward Snowden had revealed National Security Agency (NSA) documents on the agency's collection of millions of U.S. phone records and the NSA's collection of emails and other digital information transmitted online to and from foreign citizens.
The Justice Department at the time had revealed that it had secretly gathered emails of Fox News correspondent James Rosen and phone records of The Associated Press.
The department also had acknowledged that Attorney General Eric Holder was on board with a search warrant for Rosen's personal emails, obtained after federal officials accused him in an affidavit of being a likely criminal "co-conspirator" under the Espionage Act. The obtained phone records for Fox News lines, included the telephone number of Rosen's parents.
Mueller used his testimony to defend the government's collection of millions of U.S. phone records, claiming that the surveillance programs complied “in full with U.S. law and with basic rights guaranteed under the Constitution.”
The House published an interim report on their investigation in December of 2014.
"Only a month after Attorney General [Eric] Holder announced the administration’s investigation [of themselves], then-FBI Director Robert Mueller was unable to answer basic questions about the status," the report stated.
"Even as recently as July 2014, after the IRS informed Congress that it had destroyed two years of [Lois] Lerner’s e-mails, the FBI continued its refusal to provide any information about its investigation," the report stated.
As Fox News's Gregg Jarrett has pointed out, Mueller's long and close personal and professional relationship with James Comey — someone who will be a key witness in the investigation — poses a serious conflict of interest.
The two worked together as colleagues at the FBI and Department of Justice. Mueller and Comey threatened to resign together in 2004 in an act of solidarity.
"Comey regards his predecessor as a mentor, while Mueller considers Comey his protégé," Jarrett wrote. "When Comey was appointed to succeed Mueller as FBI director, both men appeared together and were effusive in their praise of one another.
"Their relationship is not merely a casual one. It is precisely the kind of association which ethical rules are designed to guard against," Jarrett added.
Despite his impressive credentials, in the rush to heap praise on the choice of Mueller for this powerful position the media and political class ignored serious questions about his past performance and relationship with Comey that pose obstacles to his ability to serve the public interest in an impartial manner.
James Hirsen, J.D., M.A., in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. Visit Newsmax TV Hollywood. Read more reports from James Hirsen — Click Here Now.
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