December 12, 2017

GOP congressman to Trump: Mueller probe ‘infected with bias’


A Florida congressman who has said that the country is at risk of a “coup d’etat” by Special Counsel Robert Mueller says he warned President Donald Trump personally last week that Mueller’s Russia investigation is “infected with bias” against the president.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, a freshman Republican, said he issued the warning during a flight on Air Force One with Trump ahead of a Friday evening rally in Pensacola.

In a phone interview, Gaetz said he stopped short of encouraging Trump to fire Mueller, though he has recommended that step repeatedly in public statements. But he said he told Trump about his issues with the probe.

“I did say that I was concerned that this investigation was infected with bias,” he said he told the president. “He said, ‘That’s why you guys have got to do your job.’”

Gaetz said he also informed Trump that the man who appointed Mueller, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, would be appearing before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday for an open-ended hearing.

“I let him know that that was the case and he encouraged us to exercise our oversight responsibilities,” Gaetz said.

Gaetz, a member of the committee, said he plans to press Rosenstein on whether top agents on Mueller’s prosecution team are biased against Trump. Conservatives have leveled that charge with increasing vigor in recent weeks, amid revelations that a senior agent was removed for sending anti-Trump text messages over the summer.

The White House on Tuesday echoed some of the concerns that Gaetz and other Republicans have raised recently. President Donald Trump has “great concern about some of the conduct that’s taken place,” spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters. She declined to specifically endorse calls from some GOP lawmakers and his own outside counsel for a new special counsel to investigate bias in the FBI, but she said it’s something “we’d like to see looked at.”

“If we’re going to continue to investigate things let’s look at something where there’s some real evidence and some real wrongdoing,” Sanders said.

Gaetz has emerged as one of the top advocates in Congress for restricting or ending the Mueller investigation. “We are at risk of a coup d’etat in this country if we allow an unaccountable person with no oversight to undermine the duly-elected President of the United States,” he said recently on the House floor.

Gaetz was joined on the Air Force Once flight by another Judiciary Committee member, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), who has also called for limits on the Mueller investigation.

Gaetz said the discussion of Rosenstein and Mueller’s probe with Trump was a small piece of a larger conversation about policy concerns.

“He was mostly wanting to talk about Pensacola. He had a lot of questions about how people were reacting to VA reforms,” Gaetz said. “He talked about these deployment cycles for military families. Really, it was more a discussion of Florida issues and issues in my district.”

A spokeswoman for DeSantis and White House aides press aides did not respond to requests for comment.

Originally posted here.