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USA Today Op-ed: Mueller Is Conflicted Out

USA Today has published an op-ed I penned arguing that Bob Mueller, though a good man and a public servant of established integrity, is too close to his star witness, Jim Comey, to continue as Special Counsel. 

Under the same ethics rules that prompted the Attorney General to recuse himself from the Russia investigation  --  28 USC 528 and 28 CFR Sec. 45.2  --  Mueller should step aside, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should, if he be so advised, appoint a replacement. Mueller has a longtime relationship with Comey that "may result in a personal...conflict of interest, or the appearance thereof."  

For good reason, especially in a prominent investigation where public trust in government is so clearly at issue, it's more important, not less, that this high standard be rigorously obeyed.

My prior discussion of the case is here.


Congrats on your op-ed placement, and now my follow-up questions:

1. Do you think DAG Rosenstein was unaware of the Comey/Mueller link and the potential resulting conflict when making the appointment?

2. Is it your view that the conflict, though surely known, was not disqualifying before Comey's testimony last week but then became disqualifying based on what he testified?

3. Is it your view that Muller was unaware of this conflict when accepting the special counsel appointment?

Please understand, this is not meant at all as trolling. As an outsider who has always been concerned about the inside workings of DOJ, the last few years have been especially disquieting. And though I am often eager to blame the Clintons for many of my ethical and legal concerns about what goes on inside the Beltway, my concerns do not seem to have entirely abated now that they have finally been sent out of town.

You analysis Bill is straight-forward and sensible if you think the connection between Comey and Mueller is too close. But it would seem Rosenstein and Mueller had to know that from the outset, no? So being convinced by your take makes me even more troubled by what is going on within DOJ.

1. I don't know Rod Rosenstein and am unable to guess about the extent of his appreciation of the closeness between Mueller and Comey.

2. The conflict was disqualifying at the time Mueller's appointment was made.

3. As I said in my op-ed, the natural human tendency is toward self-justification, and Mueller is as human as the rest of us. People start overestimating their own virtue as soon as they come out of the womb.

Given that Mueller and Comey were like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid at one of the most telling moments in recent American legal history, I think the appearance of personal conflict standard of the governing law is more than met. I have yet to hear a SUBSTANTIVE argument to the contrary.

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