STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

WH: Trump believes Mueller probe is a witch hunt

On the one-year anniversary of special counsel Robert Mueller's appointment, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the President still believes the investigation is a "witch hunt."

Posted: May 18, 2018 7:29 AM
Updated: May 18, 2018 7:31 AM

President Donald Trump is irate, again, about special counsel Robert Mueller, and complaining about the yearlong "witch hunt" he feels is out to get him.

It wouldn't be just any witch hunt out to get Trump, who likes things associated with him to be bigger and better, but rather the "greatest Witch Hunt in American History. ..." (Great means big here, not good.)

The anger of powerful politicians at the indignity of investigations is in the genes of American politics and on both sides of the family, Republican and Democratic.

Trump shares the term "witch hunt" with Richard Nixon, who was reported to have used it about Watergate hearings.

He shares the sentiment of partisan paranoia with Hillary Clinton, who complained of a "vast right-wing conspiracy" during an earlier special and independent investigation that crept on.

On Thursday, the one-year anniversary of Mueller's appointment to investigate Russia's election meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign, the President was being ironic when he clapped for the man he sees as his nemesis.

"Congratulations America, we are now into the second year of the greatest Witch Hunt in American History ... and there is still No Collusion and No Obstruction. The only Collusion was that done by Democrats who were unable to win an Election despite the spending of far more money!"

Applying Trump's term to all special investigations curated by the National Archives and measuring them by time alone, Trump's would not yet be the greatest witch hunt in American history.

Turns out that witch hunts drag on for years and years. And years.

One complaint about the Mueller investigation is that it appears to have followed lines away from its original mandate on collusion.

That's also a trait shared by those other two most notable special investigations, which after years of work led to Nixon's resignation and President Bill Clinton's impeachment. There are differences, obviously, in terms of alleged wrongdoing, the laws -- now lapsed -- under which special prosecutors were appointed and other things.

But objectively speaking, five of the last nine presidents -- including Trump -- have been ensnared somehow in drawn-out independent investigations, assuming that the Iran-Contra affair also touched George H.W. Bush. There was a boom of smaller independent investigations into a number of Reagan administration officials. But each of the big investigations that bear some resemblance to Mueller's lasted years from start to finish.

Kenneth Starr, the nemesis of Clinton leading up to his impeachment, was one of three people to fill the role of independent counsel investigating him. The Whitewater probe largely wrapped with the publication of the Starr report and his recommendation that Clinton be impeached, but the office carried on for years, issuing reports years after Clinton left office in 2001.

The National Archives has documents from that investigation that span a decade and represent 3,149 cubic feet. Yes, apparently they measure these things in cubic feet, as in a foot-tall box of foot-long file folders. The Watergate investigation was first empaneled in 1994, the second year of Clinton's presidency, and extended for years past his impeachment and subsequent acquittal in the Senate in 1999.

The "Watergate Special Prosecution Force," as the Archives calls it, lasted a mere six years and spans 1,362 feet. Much smaller. Nixon took office in 1969, and Archibald Cox was empaneled a few months after Nixon's second inauguration in 1973. Nixon later fired Cox in the infamous "Saturday Night Massacre" rather than turn over tapes of White House conversations. But the investigation continued and the Supreme Court later made Nixon turn over the tapes anyway. He resigned in August of 1974, well more than a year after Cox was first appointed. The Watergate force didn't end until 1977, after four people had served as prosecutor. Read Bob Woodward's epitaph for that office from June of that year.

The other major probe on the National Archives list of independent investigations is the Iran-Contra affair, which has records spanning seven years, long after the essential end of the hearings and prosecutions and even after then-President George H.W. Bush pardoned some of the people who were convicted as a result. The documents stretch to 1,948 cubic feet.

In 1994, the final report was issued by Iran-Contra special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh.

The New York Times summarized the event on January 19 of that year:

"After a seven-year legal odyssey, the Iran-contra independent prosecutor published his final report today, finding no credible evidence that President Ronald Reagan had broken the law but concluding that Mr. Reagan had 'knowingly participated or at least acquiesced' in covering up the scandal."

Somewhat incredibly, it was a day after that story ran, on January 20, that Bill Clinton's attorney general, Janet Reno, announced the appointment of Robert Fiske as the precursor for the special counsel role that would ultimately become the Whitewater investigation.

The greatest witch hunt competition is fierce.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 48524

Reported Deaths: 2698
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11682684
Lake5180242
Elkhart330146
Allen2798132
St. Joseph196466
Cass16389
Hamilton1563101
Hendricks1410100
Johnson1288118
Porter73237
Tippecanoe7268
Madison65964
Clark65544
Bartholomew58644
LaPorte58026
Howard57757
Kosciusko5494
Vanderburgh5486
Marshall4904
Noble48228
Jackson4723
LaGrange4709
Hancock45035
Boone44543
Delaware44550
Shelby42625
Floyd38144
Morgan32931
Monroe30028
Grant29526
Montgomery29420
Clinton2892
Henry27415
Dubois2736
White26510
Decatur25032
Lawrence24625
Dearborn23823
Vigo2358
Harrison21822
Warrick21829
Unassigned193193
Greene18932
Miami1832
Jennings17611
Putnam1698
DeKalb1624
Scott1627
Daviess14317
Wayne1406
Orange13623
Perry1299
Steuben1292
Franklin1248
Jasper1212
Ripley1177
Wabash1122
Carroll1102
Fayette997
Newton9810
Starke933
Whitley925
Gibson812
Huntington812
Randolph794
Wells731
Fulton721
Jefferson722
Jay680
Washington671
Pulaski661
Knox640
Clay604
Rush583
Adams501
Owen491
Benton480
Sullivan451
Posey420
Brown391
Spencer381
Blackford372
Crawford320
Fountain322
Tipton321
Switzerland270
Parke230
Martin220
Ohio170
Vermillion140
Warren141
Union130
Pike110

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 57956

Reported Deaths: 2927
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin10410429
Cuyahoga7883373
Hamilton6019198
Lucas2752302
Marion273438
Pickaway219741
Summit2143206
Montgomery203427
Mahoning1832232
Butler159944
Columbiana130760
Stark1123112
Lorain103567
Trumbull96770
Warren86021
Clark7669
Delaware58215
Fairfield57216
Tuscarawas56710
Belmont54922
Medina52332
Lake50018
Licking49312
Miami46631
Portage44258
Ashtabula43544
Wood42851
Clermont4146
Geauga40742
Wayne36351
Richland3455
Allen32141
Mercer2829
Greene2589
Darke25125
Erie24422
Holmes2363
Huron2202
Madison1978
Ottawa14923
Sandusky13614
Crawford1355
Washington13520
Putnam12815
Ross1273
Hardin12312
Morrow1161
Coshocton1112
Auglaize1074
Monroe8917
Jefferson882
Union861
Muskingum831
Hancock791
Hocking788
Guernsey743
Preble731
Lawrence710
Williams712
Clinton680
Shelby684
Logan621
Fulton610
Ashland591
Athens591
Carroll593
Wyandot596
Brown571
Defiance513
Knox511
Fayette460
Highland451
Scioto410
Champaign401
Perry351
Van Wert350
Seneca342
Henry300
Paulding250
Adams241
Jackson230
Pike230
Vinton222
Gallia181
Harrison121
Meigs120
Morgan110
Noble110
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 79°
Angola
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 79°
Huntington
Broken Clouds
77° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 79°
Decatur
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 73°
Van Wert
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 73°
Hot Wednesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events