'Scorched Earth': After Mueller Comes Up Empty, His Targets Speak Out

'Scorched Earth': After Mueller Comes Up Empty, His Targets Speak Out
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
'Scorched Earth': After Mueller Comes Up Empty, His Targets Speak Out
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
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Veteran journalist Art Moore was editing a story on the Trump-Russia probe last October when he heard a knock at the door. He saw a couple of men in suits on the front porch of his suburban Seattle home and thought they were Jehovah’s Witnesses making the rounds. But they weren’t missionaries there to convert him; they were FBI agents there to interrogate him, sent by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The G-men wanted to talk about WikiLeaks, specifically whether the Trump campaign had any connection to the hacktivist group’s release of thousands of emails stolen from Hillary Clinton’s campaign during the 2016 election.

The two FBI agents – cyber-crimes experts Jared Brown and Aleks Kobzanets, the latter of whom had a Russian accent – grilled Moore, an editor for the news site WND.com, for about 90 minutes. Among other things, they asked about former WND correspondent Jerome Corsi and whether he had any advance knowledge of WikiLeaks' dumps of Clinton campaign emails. Corsi, who is friendly with the president, had used Trump confidante Roger Stone as a source during the campaign.

“They were clearly on a fishing expedition,” Moore said, recounting the incident to RealClearInvestigations publicly for the first time.

“They seemed desperate to find something to hang onto the narrative” of Russian collusion, he said.

A former Associated Press and Christianity Today reporter who co-authored a best-selling bookon homeland security, Moore said he believed the special counsel secretly looked through not just his personal emails and text messages, but also his phone records, even though the agents assured him he was not a target of investigation.

Weeks earlier, two other agents had shown up -- also unannounced -- at the suburban Virginia home of his boss, WND.com founder and editor Joseph Farah, asking similar questions about WikiLeaks. They focused on staff editorial conference calls Corsi had joined in August and October 2016. They asked who normally edited the stories filed by Corsi. Farah mentioned Moore, and another team of agents was deployed to Gig Harbor, Wash., where Moore works from home.

Not long after the interrogation, the 64-year-old Farah suffered a stroke and is still incapacitated. His nationally syndicated column has been suspended indefinitely as he undergoes therapy.

Now that Mueller has ended his probe finding no election collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, 10 witnesses and targets of his sprawling, $35 million investigation agreed to speak with RealClearInvestigations because they are no longer in legal jeopardy. They include several people who became household names during the two-year probe – including George Papadopoulos, Carter Page and Roger Stone – as well as lesser-known figures whose lives were also upended and finances imperiled when they came into Mueller’s crosshairs. Only three of the 10, Papadopoulos, Stone and a political consultant named Sam Patten, were charged with a crime. Patten received three years probation but no jail time for failing to register as a foreign agent; Papadopoulos served 12 days for lying to federal agents; and Stone awaits trial on false statements, witness-tampering and obstruction charges.

Their firsthand accounts pull back the curtain on the secret inner workings of the Mueller probe, revealing how the special counsel's nearly two dozen prosecutors and 40 FBI agents used harshly aggressive tactics to pressure individuals to either cop to crimes or implicate others in felonies involving collusion.

Although they interacted with Mueller’s team at different times and in different places, the witnesses and targets often echoed each other. Almost all decried what they called Mueller’s “scorched earth” methods that affected their physical, mental and financial health. Most said they were forced to retain high-priced Washington lawyers to protect them from falling into "perjury traps" for alleged lying, which became the special counsel’s charge of last resort.  In the end, Mueller convicted four Trump associates for this so-called process crime, and investigated an additional five individuals for allegedly making false statements – including former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Some subjects of investigation said Mueller’s agents and prosecutors tried to pressure them into admitting things to give the appearance of collusion. They demanded to know if they had spoken to anyone with a “Russian accent.” They threatened to jail them "for life" and to drag their wives or girlfriends into the investigation.

Former special prosecutors say the tactics used by Mueller’s team appear excessive.

“You have to be particularly sensitive to preventing agents and prosecutors from becoming a runaway train of righteousness that might otherwise justify conduct that is questionable or unnecessarily gratuitous,” former Independent Counsel Robert Ray said.

Witnesses said Mueller’s office not only seized their emails and text messages, but also obtained their call records from their service providers, as well as their travel records, including flight and hotel information. His team literally poked around in their garbage cans, they said, and looked at their Google searches, among other invasive actions.

Some have formally complained to the Justice Department that their privacy was violated. Others have filed legal complaints, maintaining the Special Counsel’s Office abused its authority. Corsi, for one, is suing Mueller personally for millions of dollars for unconstitutionally spying on him and harassing him and his family, as well as allegedly leaking secret grand jury information about him to the press in violation of his privacy rights. Still others want to see Mueller’s office criminally investigated for prosecutorial misconduct.

“Leaking grand jury hearing information to the press is a crime,” said former Independent Counsel Sol Wisenberg. “It can never be justified.”

It’s not clear if Attorney General William Barr’s recently announced review of the Trump-Russia investigation includes looking into the conduct of Mueller’s team, which was assembled and led by Mueller’s chief prosecutor Andrew Weissmann. The Justice Department did not respond to requests for comment.

A spokesman for Mueller’s office declined to comment beyond his final report. But Mueller in his press conference last week praised the professionalism of the prosecutors and investigators who helped conduct his probe, insisting they did so in a “fair and independent manner” and with “the highest integrity."

These 10 witnesses find it beyond ironic that some partisans are now faulting Mueller for not doing enough to find incriminating evidence against Trump and his associates – “He blew it!” liberal HBO political talk show host Bill Maher said. They find it chilling that, equally unsatisfied, congressional Democrats seek to re-interview Mueller’s witnesses. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., has sent letters to some of the peripheral witnesses interviewed for this story, demanding they produce more documents and testify before his panel, forcing them to relive their nightmare.

These witnesses complain that Democrats are simply retreading old ground. They note that Mueller sent agents hopscotching across the country as well as overseas to look for evidence that Donald Trump and his men were tools of the Kremlin.

His witness list, which grew to more than 500, targeted conservative journalists and authors, conservative think tank analysts and Republican congressional staffers. Witnesses were compelled to comply with more than 2,800 grand jury subpoenas and nearly 500 search-and-seizure warrants. Casting an even wider net, Mueller also issued 230 orders for communications records and almost 50 orders authorizing use of “pen registers” – devices that record dialed numbers -- to collect phone records on individuals, most of whom turned out to be innocent.

But, the 10 witnesses swept up in the inquiry say those facts and figures, as well as the final determination that there was no conspiracy or collusion with the Russians, do not begin to account for the human toll of the Mueller probe.

They want their stories told as a public record of the broken lives Mueller’s team has left in its wake.

Jerome Corsi

Corsi and his wife, Monica, were spending a quiet August afternoon in 2018 at their Denville, N.J., home when they heard the doorbell ring. The best-selling conservative author and Harvard Ph.D. opened the door to find two of Mueller's agents delivering a subpoena to appear 10 days later before a federal grand jury in Washington.

Corsi's appearance before “angry” anti-Trump D.C. jurors was stressful, he said, but nothing compared with what he called Mueller's “mental torture.” Over the next two months, the 72-year-old Corsi said he was interrogated six times by a battery of the special counsel's lawyers and investigators inside a windowless conference room in an unmarked FBI building in southeast Washington. Some of the sessions stretched up to eight hours. He said he was often left alone in the sparse room for long periods with no cellphone, laptop or even a book to read, while investigators observed him from another room. He was not allowed to leave to go the bathroom without being accompanied by an armed agent.

One of his interrogators was Jeannie Rhee, a former top Obama appointee and Clinton donor and supporter who previously defended the Clinton Foundation in a fraud case. She was one of at least 13 registered Democrats on Mueller’s team of 18 prosecutors. “Are you protecting Donald Trump?” Corsi said Rhee barked at him. She and the other prosecutors “were out to prove that I was the link between [Wikileaks founder Julian] Assange and [Trump confidante Roger] Stone — the key link to Assange that the prosecutors had to establish to advance their Russian collusion narrative.”

But Corsi had no advance knowledge of Assange’s release of Clinton campaign emails. And neither, Corsi believed, did his pal Stone. They also had no source connecting them to Assange, though they gave the impression they did on Twitter. “Jerry and Roger blow a lot of smoke,” Moore said. “Both guys like to boast about having inside information.”

“I didn’t know Assange and was never in touch with him and had no way to contact him,” Corsi said. “That’s what they couldn’t believe.”

He said the three prosecutors assigned to his case tried to force him to admit he and Stone did know Assange; and when he wouldn’t, they threatened him with prison. “They began yelling at me,” he said, "reminding me I could be sent to prison for giving the FBI false information."

Then he said they threatened to charge him for inconsistencies in his testimony, which they wanted to use to indict Stone, whom Mueller later arrested for lying to Congress in lieu of Russian conspiracy charges (Corsi is listed as a material witness — “Person 1” — in the indictment). His recollection fuzzy, Corsi asked to have access to his emails and his Verizon call records from 2016, which prosecutors had obtained. But he said they “refused" to provide the information to aid his memory. On the other side of the table, his interrogators checked his story for holes by referring to an eight-inch-thick binder of records.

Mueller’s office took his iPhone and two Apple computers — along with all his passwords — and mapped out every email, text message and tweet he had sent in 2016. Corsi said they even traced the Google searches he conducted as part of research for his news articles.

He said Mueller’s investigators engaged in “Gestapo tactics,” including harassing his friends and family — as well as his sources. “They got abusive when they didn’t get what they wanted,” he said, "and they got nasty.”

Expanding its search for incriminating evidence, Mueller’s office sent additional FBI agents to question several of Corsi’s news sources. One team of investigators showed up at the doorstep of JoAnne and James Moriarty, who were sources for a completely unrelated story of his. Nevertheless, they grilled the couple, separately, for about three hours to see if they knew if Corsi had any connections to WikiLeaks.

“They just keep thinking they could find something,” Corsi said.

He said the stress caused him to have "a nervous breakdown.” He suffered insomnia, as did his wife, who was worried about him and crying a lot. He said Mueller’s office had leaked information from the grand jury hearing to CNN, which dispatched a news crew to camp outside their home in a black SUV. Feeling chest pains and shortness of breath one day, Corsi made an appointment with his cardiologist, who warned that the "tension from Mueller" could trigger a heart attack or stroke.

Anxious to end the siege, Corsi last November scheduled three in-studio TV interviews, including with NBC News and ABC News, to go public with his plight. But he had to cancel them all at the last minute. In the middle of his planned media campaign, his lawyer got an urgent call from Rhee and other prosecutors. His lawyer conveyed that they were “desperate” to stop him from doing more media (the prior day he had given an interview to One America News Network). They offered a plea deal: cop to one count of perjury for no jail time. He had one week to accept the offer.

Corsi rejected the deal and was never indicted. The Mueller report indicates he is no longer under active investigation.

In the end, Corsi was drilled by Mueller’s team for more than 40 hours, and in the process, racked up more than $100,000 in legal bills.

“I still haven’t recovered physically or financially,” he told RCI, though he has received donations from a legal defense fund. “We’re just now putting our lives back together."

He maintained that his “Kafkaesque” nightmare at the hands of Mueller was “nothing more than punishment for the crime of being a vocal supporter of Donald Trump.”

“It was a completely fraudulent way to conduct an investigation,” he said. “Usually you start with a crime and find the criminals. But in this case, they started with the ‘criminal’ and looked for the crime.”

In a $300 million lawsuit filed earlier this year against Mueller and the Justice Department, which oversaw Mueller’s office, Corsi alleged that Mueller’s team subjected him to warrantless surveillance, illegally leaked details about grand jury and other secret proceedings to reporters, and threatened to sabotage his “business and contractual relationships” unless he perjured himself in the Russia “collusion” probe.

“Mueller had been doing everything in his power to try to threaten and coerce Corsi into testifying falsely, through both illegal surveillance and defamation, in order to take down President Trump and have him removed from office,” the complaint states, adding that Mueller and his staff “severely damaged" Corsi's reputation, while interfering with the publication and distribution of his book, “Silent No More: How I Became a Political Prisoner of Mueller’s ‘Witch Hunt.’ "

The Justice Department has moved to dismiss the complaint as “patently frivolous.” Last Thursday, Corsi’s attorneys filed papers opposing the government’s motion.

It isn't out of the question that top Mueller lieutenant Weissmann, with ethics complaints in his past, rode herd on the Corsi interrogations, said journalist Margot Cleveland, a former federal law clerk and Notre Dame instructor; in The Federalist, she has presented new evidence of his alleged prosecutorial misconduct.

“Given Andrew Weissmann’s questionable conduct in the Enron prosecutions, Jerome Corsi’s charges of misconduct by Robert Mueller’s team deserve a serious look,” she said.

Jason Fishbein

Also in August 2018, Mueller deployed a team of agents to the Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., home of Jason Fishbein, a 39-year-old lawyer who had once done legal work for WikiLeaks.

Investigators wanted to know if he, too, had advance knowledge of WikiLeaks’ releases in 2016 and if he was another "missing link" between the Trump campaign and Assange. They grilled him for almost six hours over two days and gathered more than 500 pages of documents from him. Fishbein later received a grand jury subpoena seeking records for all his communications with WikiLeaks.

Fishbein said he messaged WikiLeaks over Twitter in 2016 but never had advance notice of its releases.

Still, agents asked him about his foreign travels and a poker friend with a Russian-sounding name, as well as a 2018 appearance he made at a Mar-a-Lago banquet.

A small fish caught in Mueller’s dragnet, Fishbein said he had to shell out about $20,000 for legal fees and other expenses to defend himself.

“That doesn’t nearly account for all the time I have had to spend occupied with this,” he said in an RCI interview. “Time that could have been spent with my family, friends or productively working has been squandered by having to keep up with the seemingly never-ending barrage of bogus bombshell political attacks on the 2016 election results.”

Fishbein, who was never charged with a crime, suggested the entire Mueller investigation was a political hatchet job.

“Certainly seems like a politically manufactured criminal investigation and coordinated media outrage,” he said.

Roger Stone

Longtime political consultant and Trump confidante Roger Stone was arrested at his Florida home on Jan. 25.

Instead of asking the widely known public figure to turn himself in, which is normally the procedure in white-collar crime cases, Mueller’s office orchestrated a predawn raid, which included more than a dozen FBI agents brandishing automatic weapons and wearing tactical SWAT gear, including night-vision goggles. They were also equipped with battering rams in case they had to force their way into the Fort Lauderdale home. The 66-year-old Stone opened the front door in his pajamas. He was handcuffed and taken to jail before being released on a $250,000 bond.

A CNN crew was on hand to film it all.

Stone was eventually charged by Mueller with three nonviolent crimes: lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing justice. He has pleaded not guilty and is set to go on trial starting Nov. 5.

Like Corsi, Stone slammed Mueller’s “gestapo” tactics. Some former agents agree the raid was excessive.

“The charges are lying and obstruction, so they dress out like this was a Waco assault? C’mon,” retired FBI special agent Michael Biasello said, adding that Mueller clearly was trying to intimidate Stone.

Stone says Mueller’s agents have also probed into his emails, text messages, phone calls and bank records. He claims they sifted through his garbage cans and went so far as to interview his maid to ask if he was meeting with Russians at his home.

“For months, Mueller’s Russian investigation has tried to implicate me by saying I had direct knowledge of plans by WikiLeaks to release information damaging to Clinton’s campaign,” Stone said. "There is no evidence whatsoever to support this claim, even after at least 12 of my current and former associates have been browbeaten by the FBI and at least six of them were dragged before Mueller’s grand jury.”

He says he’s racked up more than $1 million in legal bills, and he fears his defense could wind up costing him double that sum and force him into bankruptcy.

George Papadopoulos

A junior member of the Trump foreign policy advisory team in 2016, George Papadopoulos was approached by FBI agents in Chicago, where he lived with his mother after the election while waiting for what he hoped would be an offer to join the new administration. The agents said they just wanted to talk to him about contacts he’d made with people in London during the campaign.

He spoke to them without a lawyer or the benefit of notes, emails or a calendar to refresh his recollection — a decision he would later regret. One of the interviews was run by FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who was later pulled off Mueller's team after the inspector general exposed his anti-Trump text messages. Clinesmith zeroed in on Papadopoulos' conversations with a supposedly Kremlin-tied diplomat in London, Joseph Mifsud.

Then on July 27, 2017, while returning to the U.S. from a trip to Greece, at least a half dozen of Mueller’s agents stopped him at Washington Dulles International Airport. They searched his bags, confiscated his passport and slapped handcuffs and leg shackles on him. They also seized his cellphone and demanded he tell them his passcode to access it.

“This is what happens when you work for Trump,” growled one agent — one of several Mueller investigators Papadopoulos described as “mean, nasty and underhanded.”

Mueller’s office charged him with lying to investigators. He said prosecutors refused to let him see a transcript of his earlier FBI interviews, and never gave him a chance to amend his statements.

Papadopoulos, 31, said Mueller’s team also threatened to “lock me up” for violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Before Mueller’s team routinely invoked the law to pressure witnesses, only three people had been convicted for FARA violations since 1966. To get Papadopoulos on a FARA rap, Mueller obtained multiple warrants to search his residence and electronic devices based not on his ties to Russia but to Israel, one of America’s strongest allies.

“Robert Mueller is a war hero,” Papadopoulos said one of the prosecutors snarled from across the table during an interrogation. “No amount of political pressure you might have will stop this from getting to you.”

At one point, Papadopoulos said Mueller’s team even "threatened me with a Logan Act violation for helping Trump meet [foreign] leaders.”

Only two people have been charged with violating the Logan Act since it was passed in 1799. Both cases occurred before the Civil War; both defendants were acquitted.

“Even thinking about charging someone with a Logan Act violation is obscene and in my view profoundly corrupt,” former independent counsel Wisenberg said.

Papadopoulos said the piling on of charges convinced him to take a plea deal in which he copped to lying to investigators in exchange for minimal jail time. “I pled guilty when they came after me with FARA violations,” he told RCI.

But that didn’t stop the threats and intimidation. Led by Clinton supporter Rhee and Obama donor Andrew Goldstein, Papadopoulos said, Mueller’s prosecutors threatened to rip up the plea agreement to get him to confess that he shared what the so-called Russian agent allegedly told him in London about Clinton’s emails with higher-ups in the Trump campaign. Only, he never told anyone on the campaign about the yarn -- and emails, texts and other evidence backed him up.

Still, during one interview at the FBI’s Chicago office, Mueller’s lawyers grilled him for seven hours on the subject, relentlessly asking, name by name, if he told various officials on the campaign. Without this critical piece of information, Mueller had no conspiracy. “I got the sense that I was the linchpin of their conspiracy case,” Papadopoulos said.

“Unfortunately, the truth was not what they wanted to hear,” he said. “No matter how much Mueller and his team wished I had told campaign members, I hadn’t.”

A frustrated Rhee threatened to charge Papadopoulos with obstruction and throw him in prison for 25 years. She cited the fact he deleted his Facebook account, something his lawyer said he could do.

Fed up with the abuse, his then-girlfriend, Simona Mangiante (now his wife), went on ABC News to defend him. Prosecutors were livid. Shortly after the interview aired, Rhee threatened: “We will pull your plea agreement if she or you goes on TV again.”

Mueller’s agents went after Mangiante, even threatening her with a subpoena. She agreed to cooperate. But 10 days after her interview with FBI investigators, an agent intercepted her at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport as she flew back from a London business trip. She thought she was going to be arrested, but the agent was there to send a stern message: Make sure you call us if you remember anything about Russia or collusion.

In the end, Papadopoulos was never charged with being an unregistered agent of Russia or Israel or anywhere else. Nor with any collusion conspiracy. Just the process crime of lying to agents. And for that he was sent under a plea bargain to a federal prison in Oxford, Wis., where he served 12 days.

The plea agreement was filed Oct. 5, 2017, but wasn’t unsealed until Oct. 30, 2017 — the same day former Trump campaign officials Paul Manafort and Rick Gates were indicted for crimes unrelated to the campaign, giving the media an anti-Trump three-fer.

On top of his lawyer's bills — which Papadopoulos says total in “the six figures” -- he must pay a $9,500 fine to the feds. He said he had to borrow money from relatives to cover the debts, prior to his book deal for  “Deep State Target: How I Got Caught in the Crosshairs of the Plot to Bring Down President Trump.”

Looking back on his ordeal, Papadopoulos said he was railroaded. “Of course, they knew there was no collusion crime, especially in my case,” he said, adding that investigators just wanted “to use me for their war against Trump.”

“I viewed these people as not looking for justice, or to actually uncover wrongdoing, but to cover up Department of Justice and Obama administration malfeasance and surveillance abuse” against the Trump campaign in 2016, Papadopoulos said in the interview with RCI.

Carter Page

The former Trump campaign aide and global energy consultant said Mueller’s “witch hunt” has cost him business, income and even a girlfriend. Page became so broke he had to run his office out of his parents’ house in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. He said he’s had to shell out thousands to lawyers, and is pursuing a book deal to help recoup his losses.

Page said he was dragged before a federal grand jury convened by Mueller in Washington on Nov. 17, 2017, and grilled “all day” about unsubstantiated allegations in the so-called Steele dossier funded by the Clinton campaign. In addition, he was asked about communications the FBI had collected on him from wiretaps approved by a secret court under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA.

“The Mueller witch hunt was the only time that I've ever appeared before a grand jury in my life,” he said, adding that he was not reimbursed for travel expenses from New York to Washington. (In contrast, Mueller spared no expense on his own team, even booking prosecutors detailed to his office from New York at the upscale Westin hotel in Old Town Alexandria, Va., where they were guests with NFL players and other VIPs.)

Prior to the grand jury hearing, FBI agents interviewed him on five separate occasions in 2017, sometimes approaching him “unannounced."

In spite of what he described as interminable harassment, Page was never criminally charged in the Russia collusion investigation. He was accused of being a “Russian agent” in affidavits for warrants to electronically monitor him in 2017. The Justice Department inspector general is investigating whether the warrants were based on false accusations in the dossier and fraudulently obtained by the FBI.

“The thousands of dollars I shelled out on retainers is only a pittance compared to the massive destruction this sham has created across nearly all aspects of my life,” said Page, who is suing U.S. government agencies. “All told, the personal costs have been incalculable.”

Sam Patten

A Bush appointee and former aide to moderate Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, Sam Patten describes himself as a “Never-Trumper” during the 2016 campaign. Yet he was caught up in the Mueller investigation because he did consulting work with Manafort in the Ukraine, and as a favor, helped a Ukrainian client obtain tickets to the Trump inauguration.

That got him in hot water. Patten was charged with failing to register in the U.S. as a foreign agent. He was sentenced last month to three years’ probation and $5,000 in fines. His conviction for violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act was only the ninth such conviction in postwar U.S. history.

“It’s proof positive of selective enforcement [of FARA],” Patten said. “It’s only used when the government has nothing else.”

He said Mueller’s team used the seldom-prosecuted law to squeeze him for information about “this bullshit story about collusion."

Agents first interviewed him last May, poring over his emails and texts, but came up dry. He said the fishing expedition wiped out his savings. He racked up some $140,000 in legal bills and had to cash out his retirement account.

“I’m still digging my way out of the legal hole,” Patten said.

Michael Ledeen

Mueller also targeted former Reagan official Michael Ledeen, who happened to co-author a book with retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn -- “The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies” — that was released during the 2016 campaign.

The Mueller report cites Ledeen as someone former Trump national security adviser Flynn spoke with before returning a call from the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition. It says he talked with Ledeen “for 20 minutes.” The report refers to “call records of Michael Ledeen,” followed by a redacted section related to grand jury action.

“That was a surprise to us,” said Ledeen’s wife, Barbara, a Senate Judiciary Committee aide who is also mentioned in the report.

"They went to the grand jury and got a subpoena to get my husband’s phone records and they got them and we never knew,” she fumed. "I guess it was because Michael wrote the book with Flynn.”

Neither Ledeen nor his wife were charged or even subjects in the investigation.

Joseph Schmitz

A former Pentagon inspector general who worked on the Trump campaign, Schmitz was not implicated in any part of the Mueller investigation, yet his name nonetheless appears in the final report. Schmitz says he was the subject of leaks — and media harassment — during the investigation.

Early one morning in April 2018, he said, CNN sent reporters to stake out his Bethesda, Md., home. They waited in a black Suburban SUV for Schmitz to emerge and then confronted Schmitz in his front yard, asking him a battery of “16 questions as salacious as the stuff in the dossier,” he told RCI.

CNN subsequently ran a story suggesting Mueller may be pursuing information about Schmitz’s efforts in 2016 "to expose damaging information about Clinton.” Famed Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein shared a byline on the piece.

He and other witnesses decried what they called a clear pattern of coordination between the Mueller team and CNN, which showed an outward bias against Trump throughout the investigation. The cable news network did not respond to requests for comment.

While his name shows up only once in the 448-page report, Schmitz suspects it also appears behind blacked-out sections of the document. He feels his privacy was unnecessarily transgressed and has demanded the Justice Department turn over all documents referring to him, including redacted sections of the report. Last month, he filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the information.

Schmitz said Mueller’s investigation was a costly and terrible waste of time. Even federal law enforcement veterans say the probe was overkill.

“[He] put the country through two years of divisive trauma based on an investigation that he knew was baseless,” former FBI agent and lawyer Mark Wauck said.

After the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Biasello said, he was one of 10 FBI agents selected to serve on Mueller’s team to investigate and research the hijackers assigned to American Airlines Flight 77.

"In this case,” he said, referring to the Trump-Russia probe, “he obviously was corrupted by his personal relationship with [former FBI Director James] Comey and politics. The glaring failure to produce a thread of a case against the president caused him and his office to resort to unethical investigative and prosecutorial methods."

Ex-Trump campaign official Michael Caputo, who went public earlier, complaining he had to remortgage his house after having to hire expensive Washington lawyers, wants Mueller and his team investigated for “prosecutorial abuses.” “Ruining lives was blood sport for them,” he said.

Moore agreed: “You look at the lives ruined — Corsi, Michael Flynn and others. That alone is enough to warrant a special investigation.”

This article originally appeared at RealClearInvestigations.



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