There’s been a flurry of activity in the right wing media over the last few days, with attack pieces targeting special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation appearing with regularity on FOX News and other conservative news outlets. GOP lawmakers have been on the rampage, too, touting these reports on every TV and talk radio show they can book in what appears to be a coordinated effort to try to undermine Mueller’s credibility.
First, last week, news that FBI agent Peter Strzok had been removed from Mueller’s team in August for sending his mistress “anti-Trump” text messages made the rounds. Never mind the fact that Mueller did the right thing once the text messages came to light, the Republican-friendly media used the incident to publish stories with headlines like “Rule of law under siege: How rampant anti-Trump bias in the Russia probe threatens our democracy.”
Then, this week, FOX News broke a story doxxing the wife of another FBI agent, Bruce Ohr, who’s an employee of Fusion GPS, the firm behind the infamous “pee-tape” dossier. Nellie Ohr is a Harvard and Stanford educated expert on Russia and the former Soviet Union, and Fusion GPS hired her to analyze and assess intelligence gathered by British spy Christopher Steele.
Both stories have been cited by Republican lawmakers and their allies in the right wing media as constituting grounds for terminating the entire Trump-Russia investigation. One FOX host even called for Mueller’s arrest this weekend.
With all the play these stories are getting inside the right wing bubble, one has to wonder if anyone’s asked how these news outlets got the scoops. President Trump and Republicans have been highly critical of leaks to the press that have formed the basis of Trump-Russia reporting that has damaged the president and many of his associates. They’ve even called for a separate investigation into them.
Leaking, however, doesn’t seem to be a problem for Republicans anymore. Reuters is reporting late Wednesday that Fusion GPS has filed a complaint with a federal judge claiming that Republican lawmakers on the Judiciary Committee have not only been leaking information disclosed in court by Fusion CEO Glenn Simpson to the press; they’re actively retaliating against Fusion GPS financially as well.
According to Reuters, the Fusion GPS complaint states that, “Information Simpson provided to the committee that was reported in the media included Simpson meeting with Bruce Ohr, a senior Justice Department official…”
“Fusion also complained about a FOX News report which said Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, had worked as a subcontractor for Fusion,” the Reuters report continues. “An expert on Russia and the former Soviet Union who studied at Harvard and Stanford universities, her dealings with Fusion were confidential until Simpson told the closed committee hearing about them.”
Fusion’s complaint also details how a subpoena sent by committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) to Fusion GPS’ bank was “‘part of an ongoing effort to discredit Fusion in retaliation for its role in undertaking research’ into Trump during the election,” according to Reuters.
The Republicans’ all-out assault to kill the Trump-Russia investigation isn’t just taking place in the media. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein faced a flurry of questions from GOP members of the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday demanding explanations for these stories.
Some committee members even asked him if he thought Robert Mueller needed to be fired, since Rosenstein, an Obama appointee, is in charge of overseeing the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s possible collusion with the Trump campaign after his boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, was forced to recuse himself for failing to disclose his own contacts with Russian officials during the campaign and transition.
But Rosenstein pushed back, telling Republicans on the committee that “he saw no good cause to fire Mueller,” despite the hammering he’s taken in the pro-Trump press. Still, don’t expect Republicans to ease-up on their attacks. Mueller’s investigation is closing in on the president’s inner circle, and if he goes down, he’s taking a lot of Republicans with him.