Dana Milbank: House conservatives demand an investigation — of Hillary Clinton
Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation has won indictments against President Trump’s former campaign chairman and 16 others and has secured guilty pleas from five people, including Trump’s former national security adviser and two campaign advisers.
This can mean only one thing: It is time to reopen the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.
Federal agents raided the properties of Trump’s personal attorney, who was paid by corporations seeking to influence Trump and who was reimbursed by Trump for paying hush money to a porn actress.
As a natural consequence of this, it is imperative to probe the dealings of the Clinton Foundation.
Voluminous evidence has emerged showing that Russians and other foreign nationals met with the Trump campaign with offers to help him win the election.
And this leads inevitably to the conclusion that federal prosecutors must look into the Uranium One sale during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.
This, at any rate, is the peculiar view expressed by a group of House conservatives Tuesday as they introduced a 12-page resolution demanding that a special prosecutor be appointed to investigate various allegations against Clinton, the vanquished Democratic presidential nominee. They also want this new special prosecutor to look into the circumstances that started the Russia probe, though here, too, they blame Clinton, and to probe the conduct of Mueller and top officials at the Justice Department and FBI, who, as these lawmakers see it, are all hopelessly biased against Trump.
“We need a special prosecutor to investigate the special prosecutor,” asserted Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tex..
Rep. Paul A. Gosar, R-Ariz., joining his fellow conservatives, alleged “an orchestrated campaign against a duly elected government” — namely, Trump’s. “That’s why there’s nothing short of treason for those that actually participated,” he added.
The group of them — 10 men and one woman — tossed in their greatest hits from the Obama years: The “Fast and Furious” gun-running scheme, Anthony Weiner, political targeting at the IRS, Bill Clinton’s tarmac meeting with Loretta Lynch, Andrew McCabe’s wife getting Clinton-connected money. It’s a wonder they didn’t bring up Benghazi or Monica Lewinsky.
“It’s the scandal of our time, the scandal perhaps of our lifetime,” judged Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz..
There are just a couple of problems with this reprise of 2016’s “lock her up” mania: Clinton is no longer a candidate or an officeholder. Besides, if the FBI and Justice Department tipped the vote toward anybody in ’16, it was toward Trump, when FBI Director James B. Comey announced shortly before the election that he had reopened the email investigation. Mueller, the other focus of the conservatives’ ire, is a Republican appointed by another Republican, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who was appointed by Trump.
But such nuance was not on the minds of those demanding a new independent counsel to probe Mueller, Rosenstein, Clinton and, presumably, anybody Trump feels is out to get him — a persecutor prosecutor, if you will.
NBC’s Kasie Hunt offered the conservatives an observation: “I’ve spoken to the more moderate members of your caucus, one of whom used the word ‘crazy’ to describe all of you and this effort.”
Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., who wrote the anti-Clinton resolution, argued that “what’s crazy about all of this is the fact that every single thing in that resolution is accurate. That’s crazy.”
No, what’s crazy is that Zeldin believes his allegations are somehow relevant.
Democrats would like nothing more than for Republicans to attack Clinton again; that would further rile the base. This, presumably, is why GOP leaders want nothing to do with the Zeldin resolution. But the conservatives, who tend to come from districts that voted heavily for Trump, don’t care what anybody else thinks.
Thus did Zeldin, reading from his resolution Tuesday morning, sound as if a time warp had taken him back to 2016, or to an alternate reality in which Clinton won.
“With regards to Secretary Clinton, federal law and State Department rules, regulations and protocol were violated with her use of a private email server in her Chappaqua, New York, home,” Zeldin said.
There are 57 whereas clauses in the resolution, and the name “Clinton” appears 33 times, including the Clinton Foundation allegedly getting Uranium One money and Clinton’s campaign backing the Fusion GPS dossier.
Toward the end of this hour-long exercise in subject changing, a reporter’s phone went off. The ringtone was the sound of a duck. It was, quite accidentally, a perfect soundtrack: Having tried all other means of defending Trump, his allies are now practicing quackery.
Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank.