President Trump noted that James Comey and Robert Mueller are “very, very good friends…which is bothersome.” So the Associated Press sprang into action to defend the two men now locked in a death struggle with the president.
The AP vouches for the extraordinary, perhaps unprecedented, integrity of the men who are trying to bring down our duly elected president. In the AP’s telling, they are:
…somber-faced and demanding…
…more approachable and outwardly affable…
…both command a wealth of respect in the law enforcement and legal community.
…both known for their integrity and self-assuredness…
…Comey describ[ed] Mueller as “one of the finest people I’ve ever met.”
…Mueller praised Comey as a man of “honesty, dedication and integrity”…
…reputation for political independence…
…a shared commitment to the rule of law.
Trump, needless to say, is not referred to in such glowing terms.
The main thrust of the AP story is to deny that Mueller has a conflict of interest merely because he and Comey are friends:
Comey, though a likely witness, would not be a considered a victim of a crime in the classic sense as the firing in and of itself would not be illegal, said Stephen Gillers, a legal ethics scholar at the New York University law school.
“Although Comey may well be what I call roadkill in the subjects Mueller is investigating, he’s not the victim. His firing has been a consequence of the crime that Mueller is investigating. Their friendship would not require recusing,” he said.
The crime Mueller is investigating? What crime?
This is what struck me most about the AP’s defense of Comey and Mueller: they really aren’t good friends at all.
“Jim has never been to Bob’s house. Bob has never been to Jim’s house,” said David Kelley, who succeeded Comey as U.S. attorney in Manhattan and has known him and Mueller for years. “They’ve had lunch together once and dinner together twice, once with their spouses and again after Jim became the FBI director so that Bob could give him the rundown of what to look for.”
How does former U.S. Attorney, now Wall Street litigator David Kelley know how many times Comey and Mueller have had lunch and dinner together? They told him, obviously. Is Kelley some kind of spokesman for Comey and Mueller? Their press agent? It appears that way. Nevertheless, the AP gives Kelley the last word, vouching for the unimpeachable Bob Mueller:
“Anybody who knows Bob Mueller knows two things: One, if there were facts that would impede his ability to conduct an investigation that’s beyond reproach, he wouldn’t do it,” Kelley said. “Two, Jim is a witness in this case, one of possibly many. So what’s the point?”
“If that’s the best you’ve got from the White House, really, bring it on,” he said.
This cozy alliance among reporter, prosecutor, witness and Washington insider is a nice microcosm of the establishment’s coordinated effort to destroy the alien Trump administration.
PAUL ADDS: This AP story is weak — shockingly so unless you’ve been paying attention to the AP. To address the question of whether the Comey-Mueller friendship poses a problem, the AP relies on the views of someone who is a friend of both.
The only other person quoted is Steven Gillers, a left-wing law professor.
Compare AP’s work to that of Byron York. His article on the subject quotes five Washington lawyers — “lawyers in private practice, on Capitol Hill, in think tanks, some of them veterans of the Justice Department.” Their verdict as to whether Mueller’s relationship with Comey poses a problem came back “mixed”.
“Verdict” aside, York’s article is worth reading. The AP’s is not.