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Hullabaloo


Monday, June 19, 2017

 
Newt whining about partisanship is like the sun whining about being hot

by digby




I wrote earlier about how the Republicans are trying to play by the Ken Starr playbook by defaming Robert Mueller as a Democratic artisn (which he isn't) and explained why it won't work.

Joe Conason explores their overwhelming hypocrisy:

Such deep concern over the partisan affiliation of a special counsel or an independent counsel is something new for the Republicans. None of them voiced any qualms when, under the old Independent Counsel Act, a panel of three Republican judges consistently appointed Republican prosecutors to investigate a Democratic administration, as they did several times when Bill Clinton was president.

Blatantly biased against Clinton, that judicial panel — headed by an intemperate, outspoken, and extremely rightwing jurist named David Sentelle — was caught rigging the appointment of Kenneth Starr to replace the first Whitewater independent counsel, Robert Fiske. Although Fiske too was a Republican, he was an experienced prosecutor and a straight arrow who was disposing of the Whitewater charges against the Clintons too swiftly and dispassionately to serve his party’s purposes. Frustrated Republicans on Capitol Hill and in the media demanded his removal.

As Fiske’s successor, Starr had no prosecutorial experience but his partisan credentials were certainly in order: a former Republican judicial appointee and solicitor general, active in the Virginia GOP and the Federalist Society, adviser to right-wing nonprofits and counsel to the tobacco industry and many other Republican-oriented corporations. He was perfect, if perfection meant an independent counsel who would squander tens of millions of dollars, prosecute irrelevant defendants, and instigate a wholly unrelated probe of Clinton’s sex life, all in order to bring down the Democratic president.

Starr himself had no idea how to conduct an investigation. But he immediately hired a thoroughly ideological Republican staff that did — including deputy independent counsel Hick Ewing, a former U.S. Attorney in Memphis renowned for his right-wing fundamentalist zeal; and deputy independent counsel Jackie Bennett, a former federal prosecutor in south Texas, where he pursued cases against Democratic officeholders with mixed success and came to be known as “the Thug.”

Starr’s operation reflected the political orientation of nearly all of the independent counsel investigations under Clinton. And when Starr left, his replacement was Robert Ray, who actually ran for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in New Jersey in 2002, only months after he filed the Office of Independent Counsel’s final report on Whitewater.

With few exceptions, every independent counsel or special counsel since the Reagan era has been a Republican, whether the investigation involved a Democratic or Republican administration. If a Democratic judicial panel had appointed a series of Democratic prosecutors, the Republicans would still be screaming two decades later.

Mueller is a Republican too. They wouldn't have let him be confirmed for FBI director if he hadn't been.

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