The Daily Beast serves up this puff piece about Robert Mueller’s “dream team.” It’s under the byline of Betsy Woodruff, but is so gushing it might as well have been written by the dream team itself.
What I found most notable about Woodruff’s piece is the disconnect between her profile of the individual dream team members and her conclusion. Nearly every team member is, according to the article, either a superstar prosecutor or a superstar appellate lawyer.
Yet Woodruff concludes that “Mueller’s top priority is likely a counterespionage operation” and that the “legal side” is “boring.” You don’t need a team of superstar prosecutors and appellate lawyers to conduct a “counterespionage operation” with boring legal issues on the side.
Based on the composition of his high-power army, I would say that Mueller’s top priority is to prosecute. And given the political and ideological leanings of his troops, there is reason to believe that the top priority will be to prosecute President Trump if any plausible criminal case can be concocted against him.
Woodruff has almost nothing to say about these political leanings. Of the many members of Mueller’s team with connections to the Democratic Party, only one — Jeannie Rhee — is identified as such. Rhee represented the Clinton Foundation.
Woodruff dismisses concern about Rhee being partisan as “laughable” based on the assurances of “those who know her.” Case closed, if you’re prepared to accept the say-so of Rhee’s friends. I’m not.
Woodruff also notes that Rhee supported the confirmation of Republican Rachel Brand as associate attorney general. But Brand, a moderate, was the best the left reasonably could hope for in that position.
Ignoring the Democratic connections of other dream team members, Woodruff focuses on Aaron Zelinsky, who “clerked for Judge Thomas Griffith, a George W. Bush appointee, [and] also worked under Rod Rosenstein when he was U.S. attorney for Maryland. However, Zelinsky also worked under Harold Koh in the Obama State Department.
I guarantee you that Koh is further to the left than Rosenstein is to the right. And I seriously doubt that Koh would ever appoint a special counsel to investigate the president he served, as Rosenstein did.
In any event, Woodruff doesn’t claim that Zelinsky contributed to any Republican presidential campaign. By contrast, Mueller’s team is full of lawyers who contributed to Barack Obama and/or Hillary Clinton. It is these contributions, along with Mueller’s friendship with James Comey, that form the main basis for concern about the partisanship of the dream team.
The concern may turn out to have been unwarranted. But if Mueller’s supporters want to make a convincing case that it is, they will need to do better than the Daily Beast has done here.