Another smoking gun of bias on Team Mueller after Peter Strzok was dismissed from the Russiagate probe for sending anti-Trump texts?
The substantive part of Andrew Weissmann’s email to Yates is just 11 words long.
Judicial Watch today released two productions (335 pages and 44 pages) of Justice Department (DOJ) documents showing strong support by top DOJ officials for former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates’ refusal to enforce President Trump’s Middle East travel ban executive order. In one email, Andrew Weissmann, one of Robert Mueller’s top prosecutors and formerly the Obama-era Chief of the Justice Department’s Criminal Fraud Section, applauds Yates writing: “I am so proud. And in awe. Thank you so much. All my deepest respects.”…
“This is an astonishing and disturbing find. Andrew Weisman, a key prosecutor on Robert Mueller’s team, praised Obama DOJ holdover Sally Yates after she lawlessly thwarted President Trump,” stated Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton. “How much more evidence do we need that the Mueller operation has been irredeemably compromised by anti-Trump partisans? Shut it down.”
Here’s the email, sent by Weissmann on January 30 a few hours after Yates declared as acting AG that she wouldn’t enforce Trump’s new travel ban and was promptly and properly fired for it. Last night Julian Sanchez asked a fair question about those anti-Trump messages sent by Strzok. Are we really to believe that (a) law enforcement personnel don’t have partisan political opinions and (b) that those partisan political opinions are *necessarily* disqualifying in investigations that touch on politics? We’d all hope that a Republican FBI agent investigating a Democratic president would be fair and professional, even if he grumbled about the president’s policies privately. Why don’t Strzok and Weismann get the same benefit of the doubt?
It’s an unhealthy sign of how far we’ve descended into tribalism that people think having a partisan preference automatically calls into doubt one’s ability to do a job impartially.
— Julian Sanchez (@normative) December 5, 2017
Lawyer Bradley Moss elaborates:
Not only are civil servants permitted to retain their personal political views while employed by the U.S. government, but they are even permitted by law to express those personal political views. The Hatch Act, passed in 1939, governs concerns about politics permeating the civil servant workplace. The statute only prohibits civil servants from engaging in political activity, which is directed at the promotion of or advocacy against a political party, group or candidate. Strzok allegedly sent text messages to a colleague mocking President Trump when he was still a candidate, something comparable to what countless of millions of Americans—including, no doubt, many GOP members of Congress—did with respect to both major candidates throughout the 2016 election. Unless Strzok was actually urging his colleague, “we must defeat Trump, vote for Hillary” or something along those lines, his commentary – while unwise – was still permitted under federal law. The fact that he was making those remarks at all is why Mueller removed him from the Russian collusion investigation out of an abundance of caution. That should strengthen our confidence in his investigation, not undermine it.
Right, but it wasn’t “people” who were bothered by Strzok’s texts, to borrow a word from Sanchez’s tweets. Mueller was bothered by them. Whether there was actual impropriety or just the appearance of it, he was sufficiently uncomfortable with Strzok’s continued participation under the circumstances to have him dismissed from the probe. And Strzok is no junior agent; he was the deputy head of FBI counterintelligence and an expert on Russia. He wouldn’t have been removed from the investigation lightly. Whatever he said in those texts, mocking or serious, must have given Mueller reason to believe that the project would be tainted in the public’s eye if Strzok wasn’t booted before the texts leaked.
Weissmann’s message to Yates is a tougher call because it doesn’t show broad anti-Trump bias. It suggests strong opposition to Trump’s travel ban, not necessarily to Trump himself. Maybe he and Yates are old friends from the DOJ and he wanted to give her a shot in the arm after she was canned, or maybe he was just impressed by her audaciousness in refusing to enforce a policy which she found unconscionable and unlawful. The real deficiency in him cheerleading for her isn’t “bias” but rather that he seems to have been dazzled by her lame justification for her actions: She didn’t think Trump’s policy was “wise or just” so she wouldn’t go along, and rather than do the proper thing by resigning, she forced Trump to make a partisan martyr of her by firing her. It wasn’t her role as AG to second-guess the wisdom of the president’s policies, particularly after the Office of Legal Counsel had issued an opinion of its lawfulness. But it was good drama for travel-ban opponents. Weissmann certainly seemed to enjoy it.
The question is, how much can we presume about his motives from those 11 words he sent to Yates? We already knew that he leans left, having donated to Democratic PACs in the past. Supporting Yates on the night she was fired by Trump doesn’t prove that he has an anti-Trump vendetta but it does show that he was eager to applaud one of the most ostentatious acts of “resistance” by a government official since Trump took office. Whether he loses his job or not (almost certainly not, as he’s a Mueller sidekick of longstanding), this is another building block for the argument that Mueller’s team is so hopelessly corrupted by liberal partisans that the only proper action is to blow it up entirely. Tom Fitton, the head of Judicial Watch who obtained the Weissmann email under FOIA, has been pounding the table about the Russiagate probe since before Comey was fired. Yesterday he cited the Strzok news as reason for Trump to pardon Flynn; today he’s using the Weissmann email to argue that the probe should be closed. Both sides of the Russiagate investigation are building a case right now. Eventually, if Trump isn’t cleared soon, he’s going to act with pardons or firings or both and the Strzok/Weissmann stuff will be Exhibit A in his defense.