Republican activists and lawmakers are increasing their attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of possible connections between associates of President Trump and Russian agents, trying to stop or curtail the investigation as it moves further into Trump’s inner circle, reports the Washington Post. Trump and his allies have been seizing on any whiff of possible impropriety by Mueller’s team or the FBI to argue that the Russia probe is stacked against Trump, building the political support needed to dismiss the special counsel. Law enforcement officials are concerned that the constant drumbeat of conservative criticism seems designed to erode Mueller’s credibility, making it more politically palatable to remove, restrict or ignore his recommendations.
Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity, one of the president’s informal advisers as well as a vociferous defender, this week called Mueller “a disgrace to the American justice system’’ and said his team is “corrupt, abusively biased and political.’’ Conservative lawmakers held a news conference Wednesday demanding more details of how the FBI proceeded last year in its probes of Hillary Clinton’s use of personal email and Russian election interference. This week, the conservative group Judicial Watch released an internal Justice Department email that the group said showed political bias against Trump by one of Mueller’s senior prosecutors. House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) has been pressing the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to probe Clinton, as well as the FBI’s handling of past Clinton-related probes. Mueller got a public vote of confidence Wednesday from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the Russia probe. Rosenstein told NBC he was satisfied with what he had seen so far from the special counsel’s office.