Earlier this week, South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy told Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Chris Wray to, well, hurry up.
“Russia isn’t being hurt by this investigation right now. We are. This country is being hurt by it. … We need to see the evidence. If you have evidence of wrongdoing by any member of the Trump campaign, present it to the damn grand jury. If you have evidence that this President acted inappropriately, present it to the American people. There’s an old saying that justice delayed is justice denied. I think right now all of us are being denied. Whatever you got, finish it the hell up because this country is being torn apart.”
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The message is clear: The special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election – which is being led by Robert Mueller and overseen by Rosenstein – is taking too long and needs to wrap up – and quickly.
On one level, you can understand Gowdy’s frustration. This investigation has loomed over Trump’s presidency since the start. Trump himself is totally and completely fixated on it, regularly taking to Twitter to describe it as “witch hunt” or a “hoax.” And, as time has gone on, Trump’s obsession has deepened. These stats from CNN’s David Gelles – counting the number of times Trump has used the words “witch hunt” on Twitter – tell the story:
May 2017: 3 times
June 2017: 5 times
July 2017: 6 times
Oct 2017: 1 time
Dec 2017: 2 times
Jan 2018: 1 time
Feb 2018: 3 times
March 2018: 2 times
April 2018: 9 times
May 2018: 20 times
June 2018: 26 times
The problem for Gowdy is that his frustration with the length of time Mueller is taking – and his results – simply doesn’t comport with the facts. Compared with past investigations, whether it be the Select Committee on Benghazi or Whitewater, the Mueller investigation has been shorter and more impactful by virtually any measure.
- 13 months (and counting)
- 22 people and companies charged
- 75 criminal charges
- 5 guilty pleas, 1 person sentenced
- 25 months
- 0 domestic indictments
This is, of course, not a perfect comparison. The Benghazi investigation ran through Congress. The Mueller investigation has run through the Justice Department.
But even compared with other special or independent counsel investigations, the Mueller investigation has been quite short. Whitewater, for example, ran 80 months. Iran-Contra, which was a combination of congressional investigations and an independent commission, took 80 months as well.
The facts, in short, are not on Gowdy’s side. He can want Mueller to wrap the investigation up soon. He can even believe doing so would be in the best interest of the country. But, this investigation has not worn on and on, no matter what Gowdy seems to think.