Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, answering questions about his duties as head of the Justice Department (from Republicans) and his interactions with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign (from Democrats).
One member of the former group, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), brought a visual aid. His goal was to press Sessions into agreeing to investigate questions surrounding the sale of Uranium One, a mining company, to Russia’s nuclear energy agency — an issue that arose during the 2016 campaign and has regained traction as a conservative counterweight to the Russia question.
“We’ve got a chart here,” Gohmert said, holding said chart, “that shows just how integral the relationship is with Mr. Rosenstein, Mr. Mueller into this whole Uranium One thing. It sure stinks to high heaven, and it doesn’t appear to me they ought to be involved in investigating.”
Mr. Rosenstein is Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, who appointed Mr. Mueller — former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III — to serve as special counsel to investigate Russian election meddling after Sessions recused himself this year. Gohmert’s suggestion was that Rosenstein and Mueller were too intertwined with the Uranium One question to adjudicate fairly whether it rose to the level of criminality. (Observers suggest that there’s little evidence it might.)
Here is said chart.
— Howard Mortman (@HowardMortman) November 14, 2017
BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner got a copy of the chart directly from Gohmert’s office; it’s below.
If it looks complicated, that’s clearly by design. There are any number of indicators that it was made to be confusing, including the needlessly long lines connecting the various items on the chart, the random assignation of shapes and colors, and, most obviously, the inclusion of things that clearly have nothing to do with the issue at hand.
Before we address Gohmert’s actual point, we have seven questions.
- Why does “Obama FBI” connect only to “Mueller,” “[James] Comey,” “Vadim Mikerin” and “IRS Targeting Scandal”? Why doesn’t it connect to, say, “Obama [Department of Justice],” the big point at the center of the chart and the department of which the FBI is literally a part?
- What’s more, why is “IRS Targeting Scandal” even here? Or “Fast & Furious”? Those are shorthand descriptors for incidents that were hyped by the right during the Obama administration as significant scandals but that have no connection to Uranium One other than that people who are several degrees removed from Uranium One are also several degrees removed from those incidents.
- Why are Hillary Clinton’s emails a separate item from the server on which those emails were hosted? And even if you want them as separate items, why aren’t they connected?
- Why are Barack Obama, Susan Rice, Mueller and Comey all on here twice? (A fun game for the kids: Find all eight instances of those names!) Further, why is Obama connected to Obama?
- Why is Huma Abedin randomly mentioned? (Answer: Because her name itself conjures up various conspiracy theories.)
- Why does former attorney general Eric Holder have only four connections, one of which is to Benghazi? Why isn’t he connected to Obama? Come to think of it, why isn’t Obama connected to “Obama DOJ”?
- Why does former attorney general Loretta Lynch have only four connections, two of which are the server/email combination?
If you look at this closely, you notice something interesting: There aren’t many connections between Russia and Uranium One. That includes connections with Rosenstein and Mueller, the ostensible point of the chart, per Gohmert.
In fact, this is the only connection involving Rosenstein or Mueller directly:
The only connection to Uranium One loops back through the Clinton Foundation, which is several steps removed from Rosenstein and Mueller.
So who’s Vadim Mikerin, the name linking Russia to Rosenstein?
He is a former Russian nuclear energy official who, in 2015, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering. He was a resident of Maryland. The U.S. attorney for Maryland involved in his prosecution? Rod J. Rosenstein.
That’s the link to which Gohmert wanted to draw attention. Consider the attention drawn.