The Corner

Politics & Policy

Is Mueller on a ‘Fishing Expedition’?

Robert Mueller on Capitol Hill in June 2017 (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Representative Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), who’s running for governor, asks on Twitter, “What the heck does the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape have to do with Russia collusion? This investigation is a fishing expedition!” It doesn’t seem to have much to do with it, which is presumably why Mueller referred this matter to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York rather than including it in his own investigation.

Paul Rosenzweig comments,

In this regard, the special counsel’s actions and the Justice Department referral are completely unlike the Starr investigation on which I worked many years ago. There, Attorney General Janet Reno kept expanding the Starr investigation into new areas — mostly, I think, as a matter of convenience. Here, the department seems intent on cabining the Mueller investigation to the scope it was originally initiated for — and to also be willing to spin off unrelated matters to the relevant local U.S. attorney’s office. That’s a good example of the system functioning as it should.

Benjamin Wittes adds,

One of the problems with Reno’s decision to concentrate so many investigative matters in Starr’s hands was that Starr became the locus of all things related to investigations of Bill Clinton. This proved damaging to Starr’s credibility, as people were able to accuse him of being on a far-flung series of vendettas against Clinton. He was also accused of mission creep, and there was some truth to that charge. But Starr also suffered from the repeated assignments of unrelated matters to his office by Reno and the Justice Department.

It turns out that avoiding Reno’s mistake has not kept the same charges from being made, even though they appear to be baseless.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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