Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III got two important votes of confidence this week. Both served to reinforce his reputation as a straight shooter and ethical prosecutor.
First, the president’s attorney general nominee William P. Barr testified in his confirmation hearing, “I don’t believe Mr. Mueller would be involved in a witch hunt.” He further attested to Mueller’s credibility, saying, “Frankly, it’s unimaginable to me that Bob would ever do anything that gave rise to ‘good cause' [for firing him].” Apparently, President Trump hadn’t realized that Barr has known Mueller for 30 years and is a friend of his.
Mueller also got a thumbs up from none other than the president. The special counsel’s office issued an unprecedented statement regarding the BuzzFeed article alleging that substantial evidence confirmed that Trump told Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. Mueller’s spokesman Peter Carr put out a statement that read: “BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the special counsel’s office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony are not accurate.”
That demonstration of fairness, prosecutorial discipline and devotion to the truth managed to impress even Trump. “I appreciate the special counsel coming out with a statement last night. I think it was very appropriate that they did so,” Trump told reporters. He continued, “I think that the BuzzFeed piece was a disgrace to our country. It was a disgrace to journalism.”
Even before this episode, Mueller was holding his own with the American public. The Pew Research Center reported, “A majority (55%) remains confident that special counsel Robert Mueller is conducting a fair investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election. Confidence in Mueller has held steady over the course of the past year, and there remains more confidence in Mueller to conduct a fair investigation than in Trump to handle matters related to the inquiry appropriately.”
In sum, Mueller will almost assuredly be allowed to complete his work. If Barr is confirmed, he’ll have an ally atop Justice, one who has already endorsed the view that a president who pressures a witness to lie or change testimony or dangling pardons to influence a witness has obstructed justice. His leakproof investigation and tally of indictments and plea deals reflect the work of an honorable and highly skilled prosecutor.
For maintaining his integrity and adhering to the rule of law, we can say, well done, Mr. Mueller.