Since when does DOJ ignore conflicts of interest pending “results”?
Asked by Fox News‘ Martha MacCallum whether he’s bothered by the fact that some of the lawyers hired by special counsel Robert Mueller made donations to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein responded:
“At the Department of Justice, we judge by results, and so, my view about that is, we’ll see if they do the right thing.”
Today’s Morning Joe aired a clip from the Rosenstein interview, prefacing it with a quote from the New York Times of the Justice Department’s rules against conflicts that prohibit prosecutors from participating in investigations if they have a “personal or political relationship” with the subject of the case. According to the Times, making political donations is not included on the list of things that would create a political relationship.
Rosenstein’s statement is palpably incorrect. It’s clear that the Justice Department does not just judge “by results.” There are stated rules, including the prohibition on participating in prosecutions by people who have a political relationship with a subject of the case.
The Times claims that political donations do not constitute a political relationship for such purposes. It’s not clear what the Times relies on for such a conclusion. Justice Department guidelines do, as a general matter, permit employees to contribute to political campaigns.
But in the specific situation at hand, you have people who contributed to Hillary’s campaign, and in one case, served as a lawyer for the Clinton Foundation, investigating whether anything illegal was done to defeat Hillary.
It is astonishing that such apparent partisan sentiment in Hillary’s favor does not seem to bother Rosenstein. Would he similarly be okay with the head of a hypothetical investigation into Hillary’s dealings appointing, say, Sheldon Adelson as an adviser?
JOHN HEILEMANN: According to the Times, Justice Department rules are that prosecutors may not participate in investigations if they have a personal or political relationship with the subject of the case. However, something like a campaign donation is not included on the list of things that would create a political relationship.
. . .
HEILEMANN: On Wednesday the deputy attorney general was asked to address some of these issues.
MARTHA MACCALLUM: Some of the attorneys that he has hired, that several of them have made donations to Hillary Clinton, to the Clinton campaign. Does that bother you? Does it make you believe that those people have any reason to be questioned in terms of their impartiality in this investigation?
ROD ROSENSTEIN: No. At the Department of Justice, we judge by results, and so, my view about that is, we’ll see if they do the right thing.
Note: This morning, Fox & Friends discussed with Kellyanne Conway the issue of the conflicts of interest among members of the Mueller team created by their donations to Hillary and the service of one member as a lawyer for the Clinton Foundation.
In the course of the discussion, co-host Ainsley Earhardt cited our Professor Jacobson’s article of this morning, “Mueller found the man (Trump), now he’ll find the crime.”
STEVE DOOCY: Kellyanne, when you do look—and this is the subject of a great big story in the New York Times this morning—when you do look at the legal team that Mr. Mueller has put together, there are all these conflicts. Not only did these Democrat, presumably, lawyers donate a lot of money to the left side of the political aisle, but one of them actually was a lawyer for the Clinton Foundation. And that you look at the fact that —
KELLYANNE CONWAY: The nine FOIA requests . . . You said a disinfectant. Let’s at least let the transparency and the accountability speak for itself. It’s relevant that people know what the motivations are. And that is not an attack on the team. That is, what’s fair is fair. And people should realize — if they look up and say, wow, I want to know about job creation.
. . .
AINSLEY EARHARDT: Look at this headline. This is Legal insurrection this morning. It says, “Mueller found the man (Trump), now he’ll find the crime.”
CONWAY: That’s often what people don’t like about these circuitous, uncertain processes.
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