On Friday, The Washington Post reported that President Trump, his lawyers and aides are working to undercut the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. On Sunday, Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway appeared on the CNN show “Reliable Sources” and offered an example of what that effort looks like.
“Many people are afraid that if this president fires Robert Mueller, we will be in a constitutional crisis,” CNN host Brian Stelter said. “Why doesn’t the president just want Mueller to prove that Trump is right, that Russia was a hoax? Why doesn’t he just want Mueller to go ahead and confirm that for him?”
“Isn’t Mr. Mueller and his band of Democratic donors doing that?” Conway responded.
That’s a neat trick. Of course Trump wants Mueller to do his work, she implies — and then disparages Mueller’s team as a “band of Democratic donors.”
While Mueller’s investigators have decades of experience in the Justice Department and the FBI, critics of the special counsel have focused on the fact that several gave money to Democratic politicians, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, in past election cycles. This, they charge, hints at a bias that will color their investigation into Trump and his campaign’s alleged collusion with Russian efforts to influence the election. That’s what Conway’s doing, working to associate “Democratic donor” with Mueller’s team so that whatever that eventual finding might be, Trump supporters will be predisposed to dismiss it.
There’s just one problem with that strategy. A lot of key White House figures are also Democratic donors — and gave to Hillary Clinton.
We can start with Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, who on Monday traveled to Capitol Hill to provide a closed-door statement on his interactions with Russian figures last year. Kushner’s political contribution history is dark blue, including thousands given to Hillary Clinton in the past.
His wife, Ivanka Trump, is more bipartisan in her giving, but, excluding the 2012 cycle, mostly gave to Democrats as well. She, too, is a former Clinton donor.
Likewise with Trump’s secretaries of the treasury and commerce. Both Steven Mnuchin and Gary Cohn have given hundreds of thousands to Republicans, but also a combined $371,000 to Democrats over the past 20 years and more than $14,000 to Clinton and her political PAC.
Even the newest member of Trump’s team has given heavily to Democrats in the past. White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, like Cohn, has given more to Republicans in recent years, but has a lengthy track record of being a Democratic donor — including to Clinton.
Oh, and there’s one other figure about whom the administration might be nervous if Democratic contributions are a sign of bias: A guy named Donald Trump has given hundreds of thousands to Democrats and several thousand to Clinton herself.
Can Donald Trump and his band of Democratic donors be trusted to treat Donald Trump without bias? If Kellyanne Conway’s fears are valid, we simply can’t trust the president and the president’s family to not be quietly working to undercut everything the president is doing.