This week marked the one-year anniversary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. It’s already lasted too long, during which time malicious leaks and speculation have dominated the news cycle and distracted citizens from the real issues facing our country.
Those of us who support President Donald Trump’s agenda are understandably dismayed that our leaders must bat down constant rumors rather than attend to the nation’s business. The natural response is to wish for an end to what is, at least with regard to Mr. Trump, a baseless probe.
We must be careful, however, about the solutions we advocate. Keeping up the pressure for a swift and focused investigation is appropriate and necessary. With no evidence of collusion by President Trump, it is also right to protest investigators’ unfounded forays into areas beyond their authorized scope.
Where we should draw the line is calling for the removal of the special counsel, and the deputy attorney general, until and unless actual malfeasance is demonstrated. Encouraging the president to intervene now is not only wrong but risky.
Thus, we must let the lawful federal investigative process take its course because abandoning our responsibility to preserve the rule of law for mere political convenience would be a disservice to all those who sacrificed; shed sweat, blood and tears; fought and died protecting our noble American-Republican Values.
This means accepting that the U.S. Justice Department must operate independently of the president. Only then can the American people trust in its impartiality.
I realize there are those on the right whose trust is waning, but concerns about Robert Mueller’s partisan motives are largely overblown (some amorous, text-happy former investigators aside). Mueller and Rod Rosenstein are longstanding, registered Republicans, not leftists. Both are widely respected and took an oath to uphold the Constitution, just as Kenneth Starr did. There is no credible evidence that either has abrogated that commitment, despite their rather feverish investigatory zeal.
Thus, removing the special counsel or deputy attorney general at this point could only be done without lawful cause. This is where the risk comes in.
Dismissing Robert Mueller or Rod Rosenstein would kick the Democratic hornet’s nest. Nothing could do more to fire up their base for 2018 and 2020, and even the independent support President Trump mobilized in 2016 could be compromised. Republicans should seriously reckon with the prospect of losing the House, the Senate, and possibly the presidency to the resulting backlash. Not a risk we should take!
Admittedly, a restrained approach is not a comfortable one as we face down liberal obstructionist extremists, but, letting the investigation conclude remains the only reasonable answer at present.
In many ways, the current situation is a test of our true Republican Values. We have always stood for the preservation of our institutions as the most reliable protection for our freedoms. If we can maintain the courage of our convictions in such difficult times, we will set the right precedent, earn the sacrifices of our veterans, and ultimately prevail because there is nothing to hide.
Dennis O. Freytes, United States Army (Ret.), is in the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame and a member of Republican Values-Orlando. He is an advocate for Patriot American Veterans.