This is going nowhere, but if Democratic backbenchers can pander to their base with go-nowhere articles of impeachment against Trump, Republican backbenchers can do the same with resolutions targeting Mueller.
Plus, let’s be real. There’s no quicker path to a guest shot on “Hannity.”
Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), introduced a measure that, while nonbinding, would put the House on record describing Mueller, a former FBI director, as unfit to lead the probe because of his relationship with James Comey, his successor at the bureau…
The three lawmakers [also] say the [FBI] should be investigated for “willful blindness” over a seven-year-old sale of uranium production facilities to Russian interests, which conservatives have argued was approved in part by the Hillary Clinton-led State Department at the same time a party to the deal was making donations to the Clinton Foundation.
Mueller, they note, was presiding over the FBI at the time the agency was investigating a Russian bribery and extortion scheme connected to the uranium deal, but the agency declined to notify Congress of its investigation and prevented a confidential informant from notifying lawmakers.
A slightly more plausible path to reining in Mueller is being pushed by Rep. Ron DeSantis, who wants to put a hard six-month cap on the Russiagate probe. The longer the GOP waits to get behind that, though, the harder it’ll be to push it later. If and when Mueller starts indicting people who are or were inside the White House, like Mike Flynn, any attempt to derail the investigation in Congress will reek of trying to obstruct justice and shield the guilty from consequences for their wrongdoing. The consolation prize for populists after Gaetz’s and DeSantis’s proposals go down the drain will be using their defeat as ammunition in next year’s primaries, where the dreaded establishment can once again be blamed for seeming weak-kneed in the face of an assault on the president.
Trump could always effectively end the investigation by carpet-bombing Mueller with pardons for all of the Russiagate defendants, but there’s a catch to that. The president can only issue pardons for federal offenses. He has no authority to pardon defendants charged with state offenses, of which there are potentially many wrapped up in the Russisgate probe. However, some states — most notably New York — have their own very broad double jeopardy laws that prevent the state from trying someone for a crime for which he’s already been tried at the federal level. Conceivably, if Trump waits long enough in the process to issue a pardon, a defendant could be off the hook in federal court due to POTUS’s act of clemency *and* off the hook in New York state court thanks to that double jeopardy statute. Does Mueller have any tricks to prevent that? Yep, notes Jed Shugerman at Slate. It looks like he was very careful in choosing what to charge Manafort with in federal court and, more importantly, what not to charge.
Instead, Mueller wisely brought one set of charges (mostly financial crimes that preceded the campaign), and he is saving other charges that New York could also bring (tax fraud, soliciting stolen goods, soliciting/conspiring to hack computers). Mueller also knew that his indictment document on Monday would include a devastating amount of detail on paper without relying on any witnesses to testify, showing Mueller had the goods on a slam-dunk federal money laundering case. Then he dropped the hammer with the Papadopoulos plea agreement, showing Manafort and Gates that he has the goods on far more charges, both in federal and state court.
It was reported two months ago that Mueller’s office is quietly coordinating with New York Attorney General (and Trump nemesis) Eric Schneiderman on the Russiagate investigation. If Trump hands Manafort a “get out of jail free” card, Schneiderman’s almost certainly going to swoop in and hit Manafort with various charges that Mueller deliberately didn’t file in federal court precisely so that there’s no double jeopardy issue in New York state. Manafort will be back in deep legal trouble, thanks to evidence gathered by Mueller and then handed off to Schneiderman. And there won’t be a thing Trump can do about it.
Here’s Gohmert, one of the sponsors of today’s resolution, inveighing against Mueller on the House floor.