Brad Parscale, digital director for U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, speaks at Trump Tower in New York, U.S. (Photographer: Albin Lohr-Jones/Pool via Bloomberg)  

Trump Campaign Chief Urges Firing Sessions, Ending Mueller Probe

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign manager wants the president to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions and end Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference that intelligence agencies say was meant to help Trump’s 2016 campaign.

“Time to fire Sessions. End the Mueller investigation. You can’t obstruct something that was phony against you,” Brad Parscale tweeted Tuesday. “The IG report gives @realDonaldTrump the truth to end it all.”

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz testified before House lawmakers Tuesday that the 500-page report he issued last week was about the investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, not Mueller’s continuing probe. FBI Director Christopher Wray reiterated his support for Mueller’s work during a Senate hearing on Monday.

No Senate Republicans have yet called for firing Sessions or Mueller, although Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said Monday that there appeared to have been a double standard, with Clinton receiving “kid-glove” treatment and Mueller using “brass-knuckle” tactics against Trump.

Parscale’s Role

Parscale served as digital adviser to Trump’s campaign during the 2016 race. He has testified in closed-door interviews before congressional committees investigating Russian interference in the election.

Parscale also has said his role in the Trump campaign included working with Cambridge Analytica, the data firm that collapsed after revelations about its harvesting and use of personal data.

Some lawmakers have called Parscale an important figure in inquiries into possible Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, though he has insisted he knew nothing about Russia’s efforts. It’s unclear whether he has been interviewed by Mueller’s team.

Parscale’s tweets were triggered by Republican Representative Trey Gowdy’s questioning of Horowitz during a House Oversight Committee hearing on Tuesday. Gowdy questioned Horowitz’s conclusion that anti-Trump bias he found among at least five FBI officials didn’t affect the outcome of the Clinton probe.

“Clinton email findings decided even before questioning,” Parscale tweeted, citing Gowdy’s questions.

“Russia investigation was a political witch hunt and tainted from the start. It is now time for it all to end. THIS WAS ALL A POLITICAL SCAM TO HURT @realDonaldTrump,” Parscale tweeted.

‘This Whole Ordeal’

Republican Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio said during Tuesday’s hearing that text messages by FBI official Peter Strzok indicated that he carried his bias against Trump into Mueller’s probe. Mueller removed Strzok from his team in the summer of 2017 after learning of the anti-Trump text messages he exchanged in 2016 with Lisa Page, who at the time was an FBI lawyer.

Jordan said Republicans want answers “about this whole ordeal” from Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Mueller was appointed by Rosenstein, who oversees his investigation because Sessions recused himself from any inquiry involving Trump’s campaign.

Strzok’s attorney, Aitan Goelman, wrote in USA Today that his client isn’t the “sick loser” portrayed by Trump in a tweet but “a man who helped keep our country safe for more than two decades.” Goelman said Strzok is under attack in “a calculated political strategy to demonize Pete and the men and women of the FBI and the Department of Justice in order to pre-emptively discredit the results of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.”

Horowitz confirmed Tuesday that his team is reviewing whether political bias also affected early investigative work by the FBI in the summer and fall of 2016 -- before Mueller was appointed -- into whether Trump or associates helped in Russia’s election meddling. The review, requested by Rosenstein in response to a demand by Trump, includes whether President Barack Obama and his White House had any role in it, Horowitz said.

Republicans ‘Desperate’

Democrats underscored Tuesday that the inspector general’s report -- on actions taken before Mueller was appointed -- didn’t find that the FBI “plotted against” Trump’s election, as Representative Jerrold Nadler, the Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat, said.

“President Trump, Rudy Giuliani and some of my Republican colleagues are desperate to make that leap. Who wouldn’t be, in their position, with 23 indictments and the president’s campaign manager in jail?” Nadler said. “But their argument is based on innuendo, not on the facts, and certainly not on this report.”

Representative Elijah Cummings, the Oversight and Government Reform panel’s top Democrat, said that “the Republicans are now tripling down -- threatening to impeach” Rosenstein and Wray.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.