The Justice Department probe into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election has thus far resulted in few internal leaks, though witnesses have occasionally spoken out after their time in front of federal investigators.
One such glimpse into the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller came this week in the form of an op-ed published by The Daily Caller.
Public relations executive Ronn Torossian wrote that he was called to testify before the Mueller grand jury in December about his alleged 2012 communication with two now-indicted former Trump campaign officials.
Torossian wrote that he was approached by a special investigator to immediately drop his “professional and personal responsibilities” to answer questions regarding his meeting with Paul Manafort and Rick Gates. He described it as “a short meeting held over five years ago” in which the pair offered to pay him “off-shore” for public relations work on behalf of the Ukrainian government.
Following his Dec. 15 testimony and in light of subsequent information, he shared his opinion that the Mueller investigation now “feels like a witch hunt” aimed at implicating the president.
The executive wrote that he was even more concerned when he saw reports that Russian oligarchs are now facing questioning upon entrance into the U.S., specifically regarding any possible Trump campaign donations.
He acknowledged that if “foreign money came into the United States and impacted elections, then it must be uncovered.”
The methods described in recent media reports, however, struck Torossian as un-American.
“What would our government say if billionaire GOP donor Sheldon Adelson was questioned when visiting Russia?” he wrote. “How would we feel, say, if George Soros’s private plane was searched upon arrival in Moscow and he was questioned? Our government would rightfully be in an uproar — and Russian President Vladimir Putin is right to raise hell if these reports are accurate.”
Torossian went on to predict that Putin “will surely order American billionaires to be questioned in Russia.”
He cited prosecution of tangentially relate players in Mueller’s probe as evidence of “a dangerous, slippery slope” that could result in prison for people guilty of little more than associations with people now under investigation.
Though he conceded that those found to have lied under oath or committed other crimes should be “charged and punished,” he questioned whether the federal investigation is best suited for such determinations.
“Yet, is this the most important task for the Department of Justice?” he wrote.
Torossian also cited as evidence of his broader point revelations earlier this year that an infamous dossier compiled by a former British spy was included in the evidence used to create the Mueller probe.
“The FBI’s reliance on (Christopher) Steele’s past credibility was misplaced, since he concealed from the FBI unauthorized media contacts with numerous outlets and his anti-Trump bias,” read a memo released in February by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee.
“It’s time for this witch hunt to end,” Torossian concluded. “There are plenty of things not to like about President Trump, but if the American people seek to remove him from office the place to remove him is at the ballot box. Enough is enough.”
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