The Nunes memo’s premise is part of a larger narrative being pushed by the GOP: that the Steele dossier—and therefore Democrat-funded intelligence—instigated the whole investigation. The FBI reportedly heard about Trump’s links to Russia through various sources before Steele’s memo, including the Australian diplomatic corps (paywall) and British spy agencies.

2. Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein isn’t overseeing the investigation properly

This argument is largely based on the memo’s contention that the surveillance-warrant application was biased. It also speaks to a broader frustration that Trump has with Rod Rosenstein, the justice department official who has to approve every major move made by Mueller. The president reportedly considered (paywall) firing Rosenstein in the summer, before eventually landing on axing Mueller (and then backing down). Removing Rosenstein could, theoretically, allow Trump to put in place a deputy attorney general who could do more to obstruct Mueller.

3. An FBI investigator sent anti-Trump texts

The fact that during the presidential campaign one of Mueller’s investigators sent texts (paywall) mocking Trump to another FBI employee (whom he was having an affair with) was no doubt deeply embarrassing and irritating to Mueller. Trump gleefully tweeted the story and said the FBI’s reputation was “in tatters.” A Fox News legal analyst reportedly said it was “just like the old KGB.”

However, this doesn’t mean Mueller or the FBI are biased. As soon as Mueller found out about the texts, he removed the agent, Peter Strzok, from his post. What’s more, Strzok doesn’t seem to have been prejudiced in his work—he reportedly co-wrote the first draft of the letter that reopened the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails just days before the 2016 presidential vote, which many see as tipping the election to Trump.

4. Mueller has conflicts of interest

This was Trump’s reported rationale when he tried to fire (paywall) Mueller in June. He apparently had three arguments:

Others add that Mueller should be disqualified due to his reported friendship with fired FBI director James Comey and his role in approving a uranium deal with Russia under Barack Obama.

Mueller’s proponents—and the justice department’s ethics review, which approved him—say none of these arguments hold up. They argue:

5. Mueller’s team has conflicts of interest

The main arguments here are:

These are a touch troubling for Mueller, but those who back him say they don’t show that his team is biased on the matter of Team Trump’s Russia ties. They point out that government lawyers are allowed to make political donations, and that some also donated to Republicans. (Mueller, himself, is a lifelong Republican.)

Ethics experts at CREW say Weissman’s letter only shows that he has an opinion on the travel ban, not an anti-Trump bias, and that it doesn’t impair his professional judgement.

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