There are a lot of questions that need to be answered about how Rod Rosenstein came to appoint Mueller in those few days after the Comey leak, and whether Comey and Mueller, directly or indirectly, had any communications regarding Trump prior to Mueller’s appointment.
Regardless, we now have the prospect of the Special Counsel investigating and necessarily assigning credibility (or lack thereof) to witnesses, including Comey.
There is a problem here that goes beyond their long professional interactions. In 2013, The Washingtonian described the close professional history, Forged Under Fire—Bob Mueller and Jim Comey’s Unusual Friendship.
The Boston Globe reported on May 20, 2017, that the men considered themselves friends, Comey, Mueller have been allies, and now spotlight is on them:
The two men have had similar careers. Both have been top federal prosecutors. Both have been FBI directors. Several people who know both men say they respect each other.
“Clearly it’s a relationship based on professional colleagues, initially. But I think they would consider themselves friends,” said John Pistole, who worked for Mueller as deputy director of the FBI and also knows Comey. “Mueller is a mentor of sorts to Comey.”
Whether they were just close professional friends, or consider themselves personally friendly, the fact is that they are not at arms length. This relationship, at least as reported, appears to be much more than the routine interactions you might expect two law enforcement officers to have had in the regular course of business.
Something doesn’t seem right here. Comey manipulated the system into getting his friend appointed Special Counsel, and now that friend will be investigating matters in which Comey is a key witness. More than that, Comey’s own actions in leaking government property raise legal issues as to whether Comey himself violated the law.
Even assuming Mueller is able to separate his past with Comey from his present investigation, that relationship damages the whole purpose of having a Special Counsel who is completely independent in fact and appearance.
In a truly independent investigation, friends shouldn’t be investigating friends. Mueller should step aside to remove the taint on the Special Counsel investigation created by friend and witness James Comey.