BY JONATHAN EASLEY
A conservative group filed suit on Monday seeking to remove special counsel Robert Mueller from the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian meddling.
Conservative lawyer Larry Klayman, the founder of the watchdog group FreedomWatch, filed a complaint in U.S. district court that seeks to force the Justice Department to investigate leaks from the special counsel, as well as “the obvious conflicts of interest among staff.”
The complaint against Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI director Christopher Wray states that “it is a criminal offense to leak grand jury information” and seeks Mueller’s removal.
“Robert Mueller is not a ‘man of integrity’ as the Washington, D.C., Democrat and Republican political establishment like to spin,” Klayman said in a statement. “He is just another pol who is representing his establishment benefactors in both political parties who want to see the presidency of Donald Trump destroyed.”
There is deep anger at Mueller on the right and growing calls for him to recuse himself from the special counsel investigation into whether Trump campaign officials had improper contacts with Moscow during the 2016 election.
Klayman is hanging his legal effort on the notion that Mueller is too close to former FBI director James Comey and allegations that his team has leaked damaging stories about those he’s investigating to the press. The complaint also argues that Mueller has politicized the probe by hiring Democrats for his investigative team.
Conservatives have also argued that Mueller’s probe has extended beyond his mandate of investigating Russian meddling.
More recently, conservative media and others on the right have drawn attention to Mueller’s time as FBI director, questioning why he didn’t alert regulators that a subsidiary of a foreign uranium mining company was under investigation before a controversial deal for the sale of the company to a Russia-owned firm was approved.
“He must be held accountable to the law and should not be able to do as he pleases to further his and his friends, like former FBI Director James Comey’s, political agenda,” Klayman said. “We are hopeful that the court will order Justice to do its job and conduct an expeditious and impartial investigation and then order Mueller to step down as special counsel. There are others, perhaps who practice outside of the Washington, D.C., swamp, who could step in and do an honest and conflict-free investigation of so-called Russian collusion.”
The special counsel has indicted Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort for a litany of financial crimes. A low-level policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, has pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his contacts with Russians.
Many others in Trump’s inner circle have met with the special counsel or are expected to do so soon.
Mueller has a sterling reputation in law enforcement circles and continues to have the support of GOP leaders on Capitol Hill.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has noted that Mueller was appointed by a Republican and has said that nobody in Washington views him as a “biased partisan.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has urged lawmakers to give Mueller time and space to see the investigation through to the end.