‘I could give you 100 pictures of him and Comey hugging and kissing each other…’
(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) The National Legal and Policy Center filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Justice Department for its failure to release documents related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s conflict of interest in the Russia collusion conspiracy.
The NLPC requested documents through the Freedom of Information Act in September 2018, but the Justice Department has not complied, according to a press release.
The Justice Department confirmed to the NLPC that Mueller had a conflict of interest in the investigation, but it did not provide specific information about the nature of the conflict.
The Justice Department granted a waiver to Mueller that allowed him to stay on as special counsel, despite personal ties to former FBI Director James Comey.
Comey was brought on by President Barack Obama to succeed Mueller as the FBI head. However, President Donald Trump quickly dispatched him over Comey’s repeated interference in the 2016 election, alleged leaks to the media, and his refusal to pledge loyalty or to be forthright with incoming president about the now-debunked Russia collusion investigation.
Comey’s firing, in turn, prompted Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, under pressure from Congress, to bring on Mueller as special counsel.
But the Justice Department granted the waiver after Mueller had already begun investigating the Trump administration.
The Weekly Standard reported that federal prosecution guidelines specify that “no employee shall participate in a criminal investigation or prosecution if he has a personal or political relationship with any person or organization substantially involved in the conduct that is the subject of the investigation or prosecution.”
In what was clearly a rhetorical flourish harped on by the leftist media, Trump told the Daily Caller in September that the two ex-FBI directors were inordinately close.
“I could give you 100 pictures of [Mueller] and Comey hugging and kissing each other,” Trump said. “You know, he’s Comey’s best friend.”
An enterprising journalist’s FOIA request for the pictures turned up none within the FBI’s non-classified records.
My wife is so relieved. 😂 pic.twitter.com/jYHFPXsanl
— James Comey (@Comey) October 23, 2018
Notwithstanding, NLPC said Comey and Mueller have a deep personal and political relationship that should not have been overlooked.
“Mueller fought alongside Comey in Washington’s trenches, the sort of brothers-in-arms political battles that might forge lifelong bonds,” The Weekly Standard reported. “Comey has been described as viewing Mueller as the ‘one person in government whom he could confide in and trust.’”
NLPC’s FOIA request seeks documents related to Rosenstein’s decision to appoint Mueller in 2017.
NLPC said the Justice Department has to complete a “detailed review of ethics and conflicts of interest issues” before appointing special counsels.
The FOIA lawsuit should release documents related to that decision, and those documents should provide insight into whether the Justice Department conducted an impartial evaluation.