Robert S. Mueller III in 2013. (Saul Loeb/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)
Opinion writer

It may seem counterintuitive to the combative Trump White House, but special counsel Robert S. Mueller III should be treated with respect. The White House would be well served by supplying robust, diligent cooperation. The preemptive attacks make it look as though there is something to fear and something to hide. Rather than be belligerent toward Mueller’s investigation, and Mueller personally, the president and his staff should cooperate with as little friction as possible.

Newt Gingrich, for whom I have immense respect, and others have a different perspective on this, but I believe it is in President Trump’s best interest to tone down the rhetoric. We should not turn this into daily combat. Maintaining a level head despite the biased media and pervasive leaking of selective information will be difficult, but I am convinced that Trump has the advantage of being innocent. And Mueller will confirm exactly that if he is allowed to proceed unmolested by partisan trolls and people who think they are helping the president or trying to score points by routinely attacking the special counsel.

In the past two weeks, we heard testimony from former FBI director James B. Comey, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. It appeared that allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia had finally dissipated. Now, however, the Democrats and their allies in the media are pushing a different angle.

If obstruction of justice is actually being investigated, I think it will be difficult to conclude Trump did anything illegal. It seems the facts are on his side. Since the president can fire the FBI director for any reason or no reason, how is it possible that the president acted in an illegal fashion when he fired Comey? Oh, and let’s not forget that Comey testified Trump did not explicitly order him to drop any of his investigations.

The liberal left wants Trump — and anyone close to him — to be taken down. But Mueller is not part of the resistance. I think it is more likely than not that he will vindicate the White House on allegations of collusion and obstruction of justice.

If Trump is innocent, Mueller will say it. Trump and Co. should help him reach that conclusion, not make his job more difficult.

There is simply no advantage in portraying Mueller as a bad guy when no one thinks he is a bad guy. The best thing that could happen for the White House is for an honest man to do an honest job as quickly as possible.

Remember, it was President George W. Bush, not Bill Clinton or Barack Obama, who first named Mueller as FBI director on July 5, 2001. He served in the Marine Corps as an officer for three years, rose through the ranks of the U.S. attorney’s office to eventually be named U.S. attorney in San Francisco, and has also worked on complex white-collar criminal litigation as partner in a private-sector law firm. Mueller’s integrity and professionalism have never been questioned.

So what if Mueller has hired a few lawyers who contributed to Hillary Clinton’s campaign? Doesn’t that make the special counsel’s exercise look that much more credible? How would it look if Mueller hired a bunch of Republicans? The fact that some of Mueller’s team supported someone aside from Trump does not make them dishonest, it does not mean they are incapable of maintaining some semblance of objectivity, and it certainly does not classify them as part of the growing subculture of the Washington intelligentsia that believes bringing down Trump is a moral and civic necessity.

We should not allege bias, corruption or dishonesty until it presents itself. Preemptive smearing is neither wise nor helpful.

The country needs Mueller’s team to be professional and to do a thorough job as quickly as possible without undeserved distraction. If Mueller is mostly left alone, that is probably what we will get. But if he is forced to defend himself from attacks on his character and reputation, the investigation will at the very least move slower, if not result in even more trouble for Trump and his staff.