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EDITORIAL: Will we let a small man take down a good man?

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller

Special counsel Robert Mueller | AP file photo

They think they’re going to take down Bob Mueller?

Have at it.

Robert Mueller, the Justice Department special counsel leading an investigation into Russia’s screwing around in last year’s presidential election, signed up to fight in Vietnam.

Donald Trump dodged the draft. Bone spurs.


In 1968, Mueller earned a Bronze Star for the courageous way he led his platoon in an ambush. One year later, he earned the Purple Heart after being shot. And he wasted no time going back on patrol.

In 1968, what was Trump up to? He was working for his rich daddy and hanging out at nightclubs.

When Mueller came home, he put his head down and went to work. He managed, in time, to serve all of the last five presidents, Republicans and Democrats, always loath to call attention to himself.

Mueller headed the Justice Department’s criminal division under President George H.W. Bush. He served as a U.S. attorney under President Bill Clinton. He served as acting deputy attorney general and director of the FBI under President George W. Bush. He was reappointed director of the FBI by President Barack Obama — an appointment confirmed by every member of the U.S. Senate, 100 votes to zero.

Trump, in the meantime, was making money, living large, bragging about his sex life on Howard Stern’s radio show and playing the part of a substantial human being on “The Apprentice.”

So, yeah, House Republicans, go and get Bob Mueller. See if you can take him down with your dishonest memo. Do your dirty work for the least honorable American president of our times.

Let’s see how that goes over with an American people who, for all their issues with each other, still believe in right and wrong.

The committee memo released Friday by the House Republicans is a grossly deceptive piece of work designed to do just that — kick over the dominoes that will lead to Mueller’s firing. The Republicans want Mueller gone and his investigation ended. If in fact the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians, they’d rather you did not know.

The hope of the plotters is that the memo will dirty up the only man who has legal authority to fire Mueller, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. That would allow Trump to fire Rosenstein and replace him with somebody willing to fire Mueller.

But the memo looks like a joke, an exercise in precisely the kind of dishonesty of which it accuses the FBI. It cherry-picks and twists the facts to make a case that the FBI, when seeking a court’s permission to wiretap a Trump adviser, cherry-picked and twisted the facts.

The gist of the memo is that the FBI and the Justice Department held back information when they petitioned the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court last year for permission to wiretap a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page. The memo alleges that the request to the court was based largely on information about Page compiled by a former British spy, Christopher Steele, but that the FBI failed to tell the court that Steele’s work had been paid for by the Democratic National Committee and lawyers for Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Had the court been told that, the Republican memo suggests, it would have known that Steele’s dossier was politically motivated and not to be trusted.

But to understand how the Republicans themselves cut corners to build a damning case, let’s consider the memo’s exact wording on this point. The FBI, according to the memo, failed to “disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s efforts.”

True enough. On this, Republicans and Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee agree. But what the Republican memo leaves out, sources have told reporters, is that the FBI’s petition did forthrightly note that Steele’s research had been funded by people who were politically motivated, even if it never mentioned Clinton or the DNC by name.

The memo goes on in this way, playing games with the truth. Hundreds of news stories by now, in the credible media, have reported the distortions, twists and evasions.

But what matters most to us here is the bigger story:

A small man and his apologists are attempting to take down an honorable man to save the small man’s skin. And they are trashing America’s justice system to do it.

Democrat or Republican, how did your parents raise you? Will you let this happen?

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