Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) said this week he would propose new limits to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into “Russian government efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election and related matters.” On Friday, he joined Breitbart News Daily and explained that his proposed amendment would limit the scope of the investigation and put a six-month limit on Mueller’s work.
— Brian Tashman (@briantashman) September 1, 2017
“My amendment sets a limit of only matters since Trump’s campaign started,” he explained. “And then If you don’t have anything after 6 months after announcement. That will be almost two years [if you include the FBI’s investigation that started in 2016]… If you have hard facts produce them.”
DeSantis complained that, according to leaks, it appears that the investigation is focusing on “unrelated’ possible crimes by former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and other “tangential” figures.
“That’s not a good use of resources and diverts our attention on Capitol Hill away from on the core issues that American people want us to address,” he added. “Is this being done because we want to answer this question about ‘were there crimes committed by members of a presidential campaign working in cahoots with the Russians?’ Yes or no? And if there weren’t, then go on. All the stuff we’re hearing are things that really are unrelated to that.”
It is not uncommon for prosecutors to bring charges for unrelated crimes discovered in the course of an investigation, especially as a tactic to gain cooperation from smaller fish who might provide information about larger crimes. But even more importantly, if the Trump campaign’s chairman had a longstanding prior relationship with Vladimir Putin’s regime in Russia, that could be directly relevant to examining Russian involvement in the Trump 2016 effort.
While DeSantis is eager to put a premature end to an investigation into Trump and his campaign, his approach has been very different when it comes to those on the other side of the political aisle.
In 2016, he repeatedly demanded a special counsel be appointed to investigate Hillary Clinton’s email server, even after the attorney general determined that one was not required. In one such demand, he asked rhetorically, “Aren’t the current extraordinary circumstances involving the investigation of former Secretary of State Clinton’s private email server the precise reason the special counsel option exists?”
When news reports suggested that the Department of Justice may have turned down a request to investigate Clinton’s foundation, he publicly accused the attorney general of having “demonstrated her contempt for the American people by prioritizing politics over the pursuit of justice.”
He also led an unsuccessful effort that year to impeach the IRS commissioner, an Obama appointee, who he said had “violated the public trust, breached his fiduciary obligations and demonstrated his unfitness to serve.” At the time he said Congress must act to get to the truth and because, “We are supposed to be the people’s representatives, we are supposed to be able to do justice for them when the government is not acting appropriately… [There is] no excuse for our failure to discharge our basic constitutional duties.”
And just weeks ago, DeSantis called for a Congressional investigation of his fellow Florida representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D), after a former information technology employee of employed by Wasserman Schultz and several other Congressional Democrats was arrested on charges of filing a fraudulent home loan application — hardly the sort of direct connection he now demands Mueller demonstrate.
Perhaps ironically, DeSantis proposed in January that Congress should enact a Trump-inspired “Drain the Swamp Act,” to “[b]roaden the scope of the existing federal ban on foreign nationals contributing money to federal, state, or local elections; political parties; or electioneering communications to include a federal ban on foreign nationals from soliciting money for such contributions.”
DeSantis is not the first Trump ally to push to end Mueller’s investigation. But if his amendment were to become law, it could significantly impair the Department of Justice’s ability to provide the “thorough investigation” that Trump himself endorsed in May.