In-Depth: Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) introduced this bill to create qualifications for staffs of special counsels, and to limit their federal employment after working on a special counsel’s staff.
There are no cosponsors of this bill.
Of Note: The issue of special counsel staff’s political impartiality while involved in politically-charged investigations has come under significant scrutiny in the context of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of President Trump.
Peter Strzok, an FBI senior counterintelligence agent who spoke poorly of President Trump in text messages to another member of the Mueller team, and who oversaw the Hillary Clinton email and Russia investigations, was fired in August 2018 for violating bureau policies.
Prior to Mr. Strzok’s firing, President Trump and his allies called the texts evidence that the Mueller investigation overall was an illegitimate “witch hunt,” and the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility said that he should be suspended for 60 days and demoted for improper conduct in sending the texts. With that said, the inspector general found no evidence that Mr. Strzok or Lisa Page, with whom he exchanged the texts in question, imposed their political views on their investigations.
Currently, all members of Robert Mueller’s team have the legal right to register to vote with a party, or to make personal donations to a party. These political activities are protected under the Hatch Act, originally passed in 1939. Of the members of Mueller’s staff with known political affiliations, at least 12 are registered Democrats, two are registered to vote without party affiliations, and Mueller himself is a registered Republican.
Both Justice Department policy and the Civil Service Reform Act “prohibit using political affiliation and may also prohibit using certain ideological affiliations in hiring and taking other personnel actions with regard to career attorneys.” Additionally, attorneys as a group as bound by professional codes to pursue justice and rise above partisanship. Furthermore, all federal employees — including all staff of a special counsel — swear an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States" and "bear true faith and allegiance to the same." Lawyers practicing in federal courts swear and additional, separate oath "that as an attorney and as a counselor of this court, I will conduct myself uprightly and according to law, and that I will support the Constitution of the United States."
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStock / baona)