The White House indicated Tuesday that it is going to take a softer approach to push back against FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s broad probe into alleged Russian interference — possibly allowing a congressional amendment to do the work for the administration.
Politico reports that, after considering firing Mueller and defunding the investigation or setting up a rival investigation into Democratic Russian scandals, the White House has privately decided against a direct approach out of fear it may be ineffective or even make things worse.
The decision comes after criminal charges were brought against three former Trump campaign aides — including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. The charges, which include charges related to Manafort’s financial dealings years before the campaign, indicate that Mueller is taking a much broader approach to the investigation than expected.
Some congressional lawmakers agreed with the reported hands-off approach by the White House.
“The legal process is working. Just let it work,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told reporters Tuesday. “Let Mueller do his job. If he gets off in a ditch and he does something he shouldn’t be doing, then we’ll all comment on it when that happens.”
Politico reports that while Trump has been in the mood to wade into Mueller’s probe, but that his advisers and lawyers have argued that there isn’t much he can do to actually derail it, and are indicating publicly that he doesn’t intend to.
“There’s been no White House involvement in any activity to take any actions at all adverse to the special counsel,” White House Attorney Ty Cobb said Tuesday, while Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump would not be taking aim at the investigation’s budget.
Attorney Jay Sekulow and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly are believed to be among those who have urged Trump not to go head-on with Mueller, the outlet reports.
However, this does not rule out that the White House could embrace legislation by Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) that would limit Mueller’s ability to conduct the probe.
The one-page amendment, floated over the summer as part an amendment to a spending bill, would stop funding the investigation 180 days after it becomes law and would restrict the investigation of an event that took place before June 2015 — the date President Trump announced he was throwing his hat into the presidential racer.
“To do something on Manafort for things he did in 2013 or ‘14, that is a scalp for the media to hang, but does that really answer the questions that Mueller was put in there for? They don’t really do that at all. That’s the danger of not having an appointing order that has limits on what they’re looking for,” DeSantis told Breitbart News Radio in September.
Politico reports that Breitbart News Executive Chairman and former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon is pushing to give the measure new life and get it back on the political agenda.
Other Republicans, meanwhile, are in the preliminary stages of setting up a rival probe to examine recent revelations surrounding the Uranium One scandal — the Obama-era deal that allowed Russian energy giant Rosatom to snatch 20 percent of U.S. uranium reserves. The Hill reported in October that the FBI had found evidence of Russian bribery leading up to the 2010 deal. It has also raised questions about money being poured into the Clinton Foundation around that time.
The Senate Intelligence Committee and two House committees have started investigations into the circumstances surrounding the deal, and Republicans may be hoping that it will take the heat off the news coverage of the Mueller probe.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) last week called for a special counsel to be appointed to investigate the Uranium One scandal.
Adam Shaw is a Breitbart News politics reporter based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY