A week after news broke that special counsel Robert Mueller had handed down the first indictments in the investigation into the Trump campaign’s potential collusion with Russia, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has introduced a resolution calling for his recusal.
Gaetz, along with Reps. Louie Gohmert of Texas and Andy Biggs of Arizona, cite Mueller’s involvement in the “Uranium One” controversy. He was serving as FBI director at the time.
“Evidence has emerged that the FBI withheld information from Congress and from the American people about Russian corruption of American uranium companies. A confidential U.S. witness, working in the Russian nuclear industry, revealed that Russia had deeply compromised an American uranium tracking firm through bribery and financial kickbacks […] These deeply troubling events took place when Mr. Mueller was the Director of the FBI. As such, his impartiality is hopelessly compromised. He must be shut down immediately,” Gaetz wrote in the statement.
The Uranium One scandal refers to a deal approved by the Obama administration that allowed a Russian company to purchase a controlling interest in Uranium One, a Canadian mining company. It is frequently used by Republicans to shift the focus away from Mueller’s investigation towards the story President Trump has called “one of the biggest stories in a decade.”
Individuals like Gaetz and Gohmert argue that because Hillary Clinton was serving as Secretary of State, she approved the Uranium One sale in exchange for $145 million in donations from company investors to the Clinton Foundation.
The problem is there is very little weight behind this argument.
Clinton did not have the ability to neither approve or veto the sale, her involvement was as one of nine cabinet members of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). Only the president can decide to block a sale for national security reasons. None of the other eight members or President Obama voted against or blocked the sale, and this is likely because the sale posed no national security risk.
A lot of discussion surrounding the scandal focuses on an argument that Russia obtained 20 percent of the American uranium supply — in reality, it’s closer to zero. This is because the U.S. mines owned by Uranium One do not contain quality uranium and are barely used. The Russians were only interested in Uranium One to create productive Uranium mines in Kazakhstan.
And while a recent ThinkProgress report found that roughly 20 Republican Senators have expressed support for Mueller and his investigation, there is still a faction on the right that believes Mueller should resign. A headline on FoxNews.com from Monday, when former Trump campaign manager Paul Manfort and his close associate Rick Gates were asked to turn themselves in to the FBI, read “Mueller facing new Republican pressure to resign in Russia probe.”
A spokeswoman for Gaetz told the Washington Post they expect to pick up more support from the House Freedom Caucus, many members of which signed on to another bill by Gaetz that called for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to appoint a special counsel to look into former FBI Director James Comey’s actions.
While the White House has stated Trump has “no intention” on firing Mueller, Trump himself has certainly left the possibility open. His personal lawyer Jay Sekulow went on ABC News this week and said, “You could only terminate a special counsel for cause, and we just don’t see any basis for cause.” Sekulow admits that there is no cause for Trump firing Mueller at the moment, but Trump himself has hinted at one issue he has with the Muller investigation that could give him cause.
During a New York Times interview in July, Trump responded to a question by reporter Michael Schmidt asking if Mueller’s focus on the Trump family finances would be taking the investigation too far.
“I would say yeah. I would say yes,” Trump responded.
What this resolution shows is if Trump were to fire Muller, he would have the support of some members in Congress.