The Justice Department appointed former F.B.I. director Robert S. Mueller III, as special counsel to oversee the investigation into ties between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian officials.
As POLITICO writer Josh Meyer points out, Mueller’s appointment was celebrated, as he’s built a reputation as a “no-nonsense” attorney who would lead an “aggressive and thorough” investigation. Meyer’s look into other high-profile investigations Mueller has led, however, reveals that American’s can’t necessarily expect that to be the case.
Mueller is the same counselor that was hired by the NFL and Roger Goodell to investigate the Ray Rice domestic violence incident. He was tasked with examining whether NFL officials mishandled the league’s response to allegations that Rice knocked his then-fiancee unconscious, and then tried to cover it up.
The infamous, 96-page Mueller Report was released after the investigation and it essentially freed Goodell and other league officials from engaging in a cover-up.
But Meyers and POLITICO spoke with more than a dozen people familiar with Mueller’s NFL investigation and found that his investigation hardly reached the level of detailed scrutiny this probe required, raising questions that Mueller himself helped his good friend Goodell protect the multi-billion dollar NFL brand.
Here’s more from the POLITICO report:
Some of those interviewed pointed to the predetermined scope of the Mueller investigation — focusing primarily on whether the NFL had received a copy of an incriminating video of the incident — and suggested that the well-regarded former FBI director, whether he knew it or not, had become part of a suspected NFL-orchestrated whitewash or even of a cover-up of the league’s earlier attempts to sweep the Rice case under the rug.
Several participants in Mueller’s investigation, and others familiar with his thinking indicate that he himself approved of the narrow framing of the investigation. He did so, they said, not to dodge the broader policy questions surrounding the issue of domestic violence but to address the specific allegations that NFL leaders acted improperly.
Either way, current and former associates agree that while Mueller’s mandate in the Trump-Russia probe is far more wide-ranging, his handling of the NFL investigation sheds light on how he will proceed in the current case as well — aggressively, thoroughly and methodically, and with a well-defined objective that is based on a specific set of questions.
In other words, those expecting Mueller to be some crusading white knight who blows the lid off of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, and possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump in an effort to shut down the FBI investigation, might be in for an unpleasant surprise.
According to Meyer’s report, Mueller’s narrow line of questioning helped dance around the greater issue fans and advocates for victims of domestic violence sought to tackle. Instead, his report cleared the league from responsibility on a set of technicalities rather than moral righteousness.
Citizens should expect the same methodical approach to the specific question of candidate Trump’s Russian connection in 2016 election. The investigation is much larger in scope than the Ray Rice inquiries, and the team Mueller assembled is some of the best in the business according to Meyer.
“He’s an FBI bureaucrat through and through, in a good way,” said one former senior law enforcement official who worked with Mueller throughout much of the Bush and Obama administrations and closely watched his handling of the NFL investigation. “He’s going to say, here’s what the law is, here’s what these idiots did, and did they break any statutes. If the answer is no, then that’s going to be the end of it.”
He’s not the guy gunning to take down Trump, but he is the guy to get us the facts, which is more than we have at the moment.
Read the entire POLITICO report from Josh Meyers here.