By Eva Fu
In appointing a special counsel to investigate former President Donald Trump, the Justice Department (DOJ) has turned its law enforcement apparatus into a “tool to attack a political enemy,” according to FBI veteran Marc Ruskin.
Attorney General Merrick Garland, a Biden administration appointee, on Nov. 18 made the announcement in Washington, handing former DOJ prosecutor Jack Smith the task to oversee investigations related to Trump’s handling of classified records and parts of the probe into the events surrounding Jan. 6, 2021.
Trump has denied wrongdoing and characterized Garland’s move as a “horrendous abuse of power” and the “latest in the long series of witch hunts.”
The timing of the appointment is significant, Ruskin said, noting how it dovetailed with pledged by House Republicans to investigate President Joe Biden and his administration once the GOP takes the gavel in January.
“Using the legal system in baseless investigations and prosecutions has been a hallmark of the anti-Trump campaign since before 2016,” Ruskin, who served 27 years with the FBI and is a contributor for The Epoch Times, said in an interview.
Ruskin believes that the special counsel investigation serves a particular purpose.
“It’s an old trick,” he said. “They’ll be hoping to divert attention from the congressional investigations and focus instead on a baseless special counsel investigation, because there’s no question that the legacy media is going to jump on board and give this front page attention, while the investigations being conducted by Congress will either be ignored or relegated to the back of the newspaper.”
U.S. Code 28 CFR § 600.1 prescribes that the DOJ should appoint a special counsel in an investigation where there is a conflict of interest or other extraordinary circumstances, under which it would be in the public interest for an outside special counsel to step in.
In the Friday press conference, Garland described the appointment of Smith, a registered independent, as a matter of public interest, citing Trump’s presidential candidacy and Biden’s interest in entering the race. Ruskin, however, didn’t feel convinced that there were sufficient grounds to warrant such a move.
“They really haven’t articulated facts which justified the appointment of any kind of counsel,” he said.
Some Trump critics have argued that the special counsel appointment suggests that the Justice Department is intent on bringing the case to indictment. Ruskin dismissed this claim as “a fabrication in order to justify a difficult-to-justify investigation.”
“The argument is the old ‘where the smoke there must be fire’ reasoning, which is fallacious reasoning,” he said. “It’s a fallacy which has been propagated in order to justify what is arguably a politically motivated investigation seeking to create an advantage for the Democratic Party in the upcoming elections.”
With the Jan. 6 probes dragging on for nearly two years, Ruskin said that he doesn’t expect anything tangible coming out of the continuing investigations.
“They’ve come up with basically nothing. It really defies credibility to even suggest that this is a bonafide, legitimate investigation,” he said.
Ruskin said that the news from Friday confirmed his belief that the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago raid was a “fishing expedition to obtain anything related to January 6.”
Such a tactic, which Ruskin called a “bait-and-switch,” is no different from using “tainted evidence” in his view.
“It’s like the fruit of the poisonous tree,” he said. “You shouldn’t be able to use facts obtained via subterfuge in order to accomplish something unrelated to the goals.”
Hunter Biden Probe
Having won back the House with a slim majority, Republicans have wasted no time flagging a raft of probes they plan to unleash in the new year, with a top focus being Biden’s alleged involvement in his son Hunter’s foreign business deals.
“This is an investigation of Joe Biden, the president of the United States, and why he lied to the American people about his knowledge and participation in his family’s international business schemes,” Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), the incoming chairman of the House Oversight Committee, told reporters on Nov. 17. The announcement prompted a retort from the White House, which called it politically-motivated rehashing of “long-debunked conspiracy theories.”
Republicans on the committee on the same day released a report claiming to have uncovered evidence of federal crimes tied to the Biden family, which include conspiracy to defraud the United States, wire fraud, violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Action, tax evasion, money laundering, and violations of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
But Republicans looking into the possible abuses by the DOJ and FBI could face strong resistance from the agencies, according to Ruskin. This is especially so if the House GOP wants to look into ongoing matters like the FBI Trump raid, in which case the bureau could cite the ongoing investigation to refuse disclosing information.
But Ruskin sees the FBI’s handling of Hunter Biden laptop as a potential starting point.
An “obvious avenue of inquiry,” he said, is “why Justice [Department] and the bureau have sat on for two years without making any progress.”
Earlier this year, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) revealed claims from FBI whistleblowers, alleging that the bureau leadership at the local level purposely delayed an examination of the Hunter Biden laptop until after the 2020 election, around a year after the FBI obtained the laptop in December 2019.
Treatment of Giuliani
Ruskin also noted that one day ahead of Trump’s anticipated 2024 campaign launch, prosecutors announced that they were not pursuing criminal charges against Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s former personal lawyer, over alleged Ukraine lobbying. The move ended a two-year probe that included a high-profile FBI raid in April 2021 that resulted in the seizure of 18 electronic devices.
“The case probably showed that they had no case and probably should have dismissed it a long time ago,” Ruskin said.
If the new Congress decides to look into the Giuliani case, one issue that could come up is whether there was sufficient probable cause for the FBI search and seizure warrant, or if the move was driven by political malice, said Ruksin. Considering Giuliani’s work for Trump and the DOJ’s “questionable behavior” regarding the former president, he said “it’s reasonable to speculate” the investigation was politically motivated.
The Epoch Times has reached out to the FBI and the DOJ for comment.
While the planned congressional investigations may not result in criminal prosecutions, Ruskin still thinks they are a necessary step.
“Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” he said, quoting former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis. “Bringing into the sunlight hidden acts is the best way to deal with them—Initially, at least.”