In the 1939 classic movie The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy, Toto, and her pals embark on a trek to find the Wizard, who she hopes will help her return home to Kansas. This motley crew includes the Scarecrow who is in search of a brain, the Tin Man who is badly in need of a heart, and the Cowardly Lion who is – oddly enough for the king of the jungle — bereft of courage. And so this omnium gatherum sets out to follow the yellow brick road to find the powerful Wizard. But when they finally reach the Emerald City, they are disappointed to discover there is no Grand Wizard at all — just an ordinary man pulling a bunch of levers.
With bated breath, Swamp-dwellers, the chattering class, and media types of all stripes await the forthcoming report from the special counsel’s office regarding so-called Russian collusion during the 2016 presidential election. Robert Mueller and his band of lawyers have been following a yellow brick road of their own for two years now in what’s being billed as an epic event in the history of American politics.
As the final report is being prepared by Mueller’s omnium gatherum of lawyers, it seems an apropos time to review who has been on this long journey with Grand Wizard Mueller. Is it a benign group of needy travelers, as in the Oz movie, or are there more sinister forces behind the curtain grinding a personal or political ax?
In a two-hour soliloquy at the 2019 annual Conservative Political Action Conference, President Trump hammered down on those who have been wending their way to the Emerald City with Mueller:
“Robert Mueller put 13 of the angriest Democrats in the history of our country on the commission. One of them was involved with the Hillary Clinton Foundation, running it. Another one has perhaps the worst reputation of any human being I’ve ever seen — all killers.”
Yellow Brick Road Paved With Democratic Contributions
In a thorough examination of those who work for the special counsel, The Daily Caller found that 11 are Democratic donors, 13 are registered Democrats, and the other three have no known party affiliation. Basically, “None of the 16 lawyers known to work for special counsel Robert Mueller are currently registered Republicans,” The Caller reports. Just how committed are these yellow-brick-road travelers to their political party? A search into campaign contribution filings reveals “nine of the 16 lawyers” donated a total of $62,000 to Democrats, with only “one of those nine lawyers” contributing “$2,750 to Republican candidates.”
According to Business Insider, a Who’s Who of the Mueller team also reveals:
- Jeannie Rhee was a lawyer in the Hillary Clinton private email scandal and defended the Clinton Foundation as well. Rhee donated $5,400 to Hillary for America.
- Kyle Freeny made small donations of $250 to the Obama campaigns and another $250 to Hillary’s campaign for president.
- Uzo Asonye also was a minor donor to Hillary Clinton’s campaign against Donald Trump. He contributed $800 to her primary campaign, according to the FEC.
- James Quarles has put down a bundle – close to $33,000 – on political candidates, most of whom are Democrats, including donations to presidential hopefuls Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, and John Kerry and to the Hillary for America PAC. Quarles also has made small Republican donations – most notably to former Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) as well as to the George Allen campaign for Senate in Virginia.
- Andrew Weissmann gave $2,000 to the Democratic National Committee in 2006 and $2,300 to Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, though some reports show Weissmann’s total donations to the Democrats total $4,700. Weissmann also made a $1,000 contribution to Andrew Cuomo when he ran for Attorney General of New York in 2006.
- Andrew Goldstein contributed $3,300 to both of the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama.
- Brandon Van Grack donated $286 to the 2008 Obama for President campaign.
- Ruth Atkinson gave $200 to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016.
- Elizabeth Prelogar donated $250 to Obama in 2012 and $250 to Clinton in 2016.
With such a partisan crowd investigating the president’s 2016 campaign, many have cried foul, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), who wrote, “Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair. Look who he is hiring. check fec (sic) reports. Time to rethink.”
Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Political speech is one of the most protected of our constitutional rights. The fact that these men and women who make up the Grand Wizard’s team have given money to Democratic candidates is entirely within their right as Americans. However, the lack of political balance within their ranks could and perhaps should undermine the validity of their conclusions.
When Dorothy’s Cairn terrier Toto pulls back the curtain in the Emerald City, the Wizard is exposed as nothing more than a middle-aged man faking it. Considering the lopsided political composition of his unit, this, too, may be Grand Wizard Mueller’s legacy. And the artificially amplified voice of Mueller — much like the Wizard shouting into the microphone may end up revealing a whole lot of nothing. As it is, the inability or unwillingness of Mueller to assemble a nonpartisan team will undoubtedly cause their final report to be more than a bit suspect.
Moreover, it remains to be seen if Grand Wizard Mueller and his merry band of partisans will demonstrate even a hint of the Scarecrow’s brains, the Tin Man’s heart, or the Cowardly Lion’s courage in reaching their conclusions.
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