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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.

Cases: 1462456

Reported Deaths: 20308
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion2005922494
Lake992001456
Allen903391005
Hamilton70705539
St. Joseph63078746
Elkhart48098622
Vanderburgh46217523
Tippecanoe42115330
Johnson37119516
Hendricks35078455
Porter33900460
Madison28036530
Clark25186321
Vigo24768341
LaPorte22894307
Monroe22201243
Howard21344372
Delaware20937363
Hancock18289217
Kosciusko17513199
Bartholomew17399212
Warrick16060212
Wayne15757296
Floyd15399252
Grant14898293
Morgan13934230
Boone13172136
Noble11421140
Dearborn11355112
Henry11312201
Shelby11231150
Marshall11041166
Dubois10782152
Jackson10174104
DeKalb9944128
Cass9942142
Lawrence9914219
Huntington9823139
Gibson9131125
Montgomery9005140
Knox8762124
Harrison8718111
Whitley844771
Steuben8340102
Jasper8069113
Putnam795197
Clinton792994
Miami7914133
Wabash7598138
Jefferson7551124
Ripley6993111
Adams6508101
Scott629086
Daviess6266127
White602379
Greene5913111
Clay587173
Wells5814120
Decatur5754118
Jennings572276
Fayette5657121
Posey529146
LaGrange512996
Randolph4925128
Washington482067
Owen480398
Fountain463579
Spencer438156
Starke434086
Sullivan432164
Fulton426790
Orange412682
Jay403964
Rush395736
Carroll371349
Franklin369850
Perry362155
Vermillion345062
Pike308945
Tipton307974
Parke305038
Pulaski266973
Blackford266755
Newton228359
Brown222654
Benton213321
Crawford211231
Switzerland189414
Martin181921
Warren169520
Union163619
Ohio119516
Unassigned0742

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2403645

Reported Deaths: 30922
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin2596932036
Cuyahoga2572672998
Hamilton1666711699
Montgomery1103831586
Summit1066861382
Lucas895171149
Butler78647924
Stark747301383
Lorain62885783
Warren49934468
Mahoning49735909
Lake46850586
Clermont43541428
Delaware38876210
Trumbull38576748
Medina37611416
Licking36901401
Fairfield33848331
Greene32124416
Portage31381356
Clark30277440
Richland28251420
Wood27660289
Allen24372392
Miami22806389
Muskingum22298244
Columbiana22095399
Wayne21275354
Tuscarawas18847423
Erie18041221
Ashtabula17932338
Marion17503231
Scioto16553203
Ross16163249
Pickaway15536173
Hancock15251227
Geauga15244221
Lawrence13847186
Huron13399182
Union1329683
Belmont13255247
Jefferson12864257
Sandusky12770197
Athens11949106
Knox11511195
Seneca11454200
Ashland10795174
Darke10673196
Washington10564168
Auglaize10152141
Crawford9854175
Shelby9699155
Brown9400140
Fulton9235148
Guernsey9109115
Defiance9057134
Highland9035143
Logan8955141
Clinton8719121
Mercer8640111
Madison8568104
Preble8002160
Williams7848135
Putnam7731135
Ottawa7629120
Champaign7556112
Jackson7383114
Perry714598
Coshocton7043136
Morrow694580
Fayette662287
Hardin6219125
Pike617086
Gallia594989
Adams5779124
Van Wert5779120
Henry565592
Hocking5521103
Carroll4828100
Wyandot482289
Holmes4747161
Paulding401163
Meigs375071
Monroe299368
Noble279851
Harrison279461
Morgan276848
Vinton239845
Unassigned08
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