Reps. Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Jim Jordan of Ohio are calling into question the impartiality of two members of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.
The two Republican lawmakers sent a letter to recently confirmed Attorney General William Barr seeking information about actions taken or not taken by Department of Justice prosecutors Andrew Weissmann and Zainab Ahmad after learning of the bias of Russia dossier author Christopher Steele against then-candidate Donald Trump.
Meadows and Jordan noted in the letter to Barr that the dossier — paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee — was “crucial” in the FBI’s decision to launch a counterintelligence investigation against the Trump campaign, which was taken over by Mueller in May 2017.
The House Oversight Committee members recounted prior to the 2016 election that Weissmann and Ahmad were in contact with their DOJ colleague then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr about the dossier, who informed them of its potential bias.
“According to Ohr, Steele was ‘desperate’ to prevent then-candidate Donald Trump from becoming President — a bias Ohr communicated to the FBI. Ohr testified (before Congress) he also conveyed Steele’s information to Weissmann and Ahmad in 2016 — well before the Special Counsel was appointed,” Meadows and Jordan wrote.
To the lawmakers, the prosecutors’ knowledge of the dossier’s origins raises red flags.
“Weissmann’s and Ahmad’s receipt of biased information before their appointment to the Special Counsel’s Office calls into question their impartiality, the very reason for establishing an independent Special Counsel investigation,” the lawmakers’ letter reads.
“We write to determine what steps both Weissmann and Ahmad took to apprise Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III and the Justice Department of their contacts with Ohr and the substance of those meetings before their assignment to the Special Counsel’s Office.”
The congressman contend that as seasoned DOJ prosecutors the men should understand their responsibility to convey such important information about the dossier to the appropriate officials at the department.
“Since beginning our investigation in October 2017, we have obtained evidence of political bias and self-described ‘unusual’ conduct within the Department raising questions about the independence of the Special Counsel’s Office,” Meadows and Jordan wrote. “We learned several employees of the Special Counsel’s Office are affiliated with political opponents of President Trump.”
The representatives pointed to anti-Trump text messages between former Mueller team members Peter Strzok and Lisa page as examples of bias and say Ohr’s testimony now raises questions about Weissmann and Ahmad.
Meadows and Jordan are specifically asking Barr to identify what, if any, actions that Weissmann and Ahmad took upon learning of the bias.
Further, the congressmen want the prosecutors’ documents and communications that involve becoming part of the special counsel’s team.
Finally, Meadows and Jordan seek any documents or communications the DOJ used to evaluate Weissmann’s and Ahmad’s independence.
Trump has questioned the impartiality of Mueller’s “13 Angry and heavily conflicted Democrats” on multiple occasions.
Why aren’t the 13 Angry and heavily conflicted Democrats investigating the totally Crooked Campaign of totally Crooked Hillary Clinton. It’s a Rigged Witch Hunt, that’s why! Ask them if they enjoyed her after election celebration!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2018
Politifact confirmed last March that at least 13 of the 17 lawyers on Mueller’s team are Democrats, six of whom contributed to Clinton.
Of the four remaining attorneys, the fact checker could not determine their party affiliation.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Weissmann attended Clinton’s election night party in November 2016.
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