No stack­ing the deck

Robert Mueller for­gets that in Wash­ing­ton per­cep­tion is re­al­ity

The Washington Times Daily - - COMMENTARY -

Robert Mueller III has al­ways got high marks for pro­bity, in­tegrity and hon­esty, but as a Wash­ing­ton lawyer of con­sid­er­able tal­ent he should know that some­times it’s the per­cep­tion that counts most. Mr. Mueller is ask­ing a skep­ti­cal cap­i­tal to take too much on faith.

Mr. Mueller is just now re­cruit­ing lawyers for what may be an eight-year in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the life and times of Don­ald Trump, with an in­dict­ment of the pres­i­dent at the end, though for just what it could be is not yet clear. So far all his lawyers are faith­ful Democrats, who have over the years put a lot of their money where their mouths are.

One of his lat­est re­cruits is El­iz­a­beth Prel­ogar, a lawyer in the Of­fice of the Solic­i­tor Gen­eral, to work on what is still be­ing loosely called “the Rus­sia probe,” an inquiry into al­le­ga­tions that the pres­i­dent, or his sur­ro­gates or maybe just peo­ple he knows “col­luded” with the Rus­sians to, well, it’s not clear what they think the pres­i­dent and his men might have been up to, but we’re sup­posed to think was some­thing not good.

Miss Prel­ogar was once a law clerk for Supreme Court Jus­tice Ruth Bader Gins­burg, who was so up­set that Mr. Trump might win the elec­tion that she threat­ened to move to New Zealand if he did, pre­sum­ably be­cause ac­com­mo­da­tions at the South Pole are not suf­fi­ciently com­fort­able. Miss Prel­ogar was once a law clerk for Supreme Court Jus­tice Elena Ka­gan, a faith­ful Obama Demo­crat. Ac­cord­ing to the records of the Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion, Miss Prel­ogar was a con­trib­u­tor to the pres­i­den­tial cam­paigns of both Barack Obama and Hil­lary Clin­ton.

Noth­ing wrong with that, up to a point. She was en­ti­tled, as a cit­i­zen, to give money to any can­di­date she chooses, within the spec­i­fied lim­its on cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions. But that en­ti­tles ev­ery­one else to con­sider the con­tri­bu­tions as ev­i­dence that she’s a par­ti­san Demo­crat.

Miss Prel­ogar is merely the lat­est of sev­eral lawyers re­cruited by Mr. Mueller who have given large amounts of money to Demo­cratic can­di­dates. One of them, James Quar­les, has over the years con­trib­uted $33,000 to such can­di­dates. Oth­ers have given lesser amounts.

Some of Mr. Trump’s friends and sup­port­ers worry that this is a cause for worry that Mr. Mueller, sworn to con­duct a fair inquiry, is not con­cerned about ap­pear­ances. Per­haps he is only con­cerned about whether he gets the cuffs on his quarry.

Ob­served Newt Gin­grich, the for­mer speaker of the House and a one­time can­di­date for pres­i­dent, to the Daily Caller: “When you say to me, ‘Do I worry about [Mr.] Mueller as an in­ves­ti­ga­tor?’ . . . As a his­to­rian, yes, I’d worry. And then you look at who he hired and it gets worse.”

Surely the pool of com­pe­tent lawyers that Mr. Mueller could draw on in­cludes one or two who are not par­ti­san Democrats on the prowl for a kill and a sat­is­fy­ing re­turn on in­vest­ment. Ei­ther Mr. Mueller is obliv­i­ous to per­cep­tions, in a town where per­cep­tion is re­garded as fun­da­men­tal, or he has de­cided that his quarry is so un­pop­u­lar and is such an “unre­deemed de­plorable” that he need not con­cern him­self with pro­tect­ing the pres­i­dent’s right to a fair in­ves­ti­ga­tion. There’s a word for this, and it’s not a pretty one.

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