Robert Mueller’s Tom Price Problem

The headline in The Washington Post dates back to March 21, 2014. It reads:

Personal FBI flights for Holder and other Justice officials went unreported

The story begins:

The agency that tracks federal travel did not report hundreds of personal and other “nonmission” trips aboard government planes for senior Justice Department officials including Attorney General Eric Holder and former FBI Director Robert Mueller, according to a watchdog report.

Congress’s nonpartisan Government Accountability Office determined that the 395 flights cost taxpayers $7.8 million. But the General Services Administration, which oversees trips aboard federal jets, did not require documentation because of a GSA reporting exemption that covers intelligence agencies, even in cases of unclassified personal travel.

And when one follows the link from the Post to the General Accounting Office report one finds a report that says, among other things, this:

For example, in February 2013 GAO found that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)—which is a member of the intelligence community—did not report to GSA, based on the intelligence agency exemption, information for 395 unclassified nonmission flights taken by the Attorney General, FBI Director, and other Department of Justice (DOJ) executives from fiscal years 2009 through 2011.

And who was the Director of the FBI in that period between 2009 and 2011? Yes, of course. It was now Independent Counsel Robert Mueller.

Which is another way of saying that Mueller has what might be ever so gently called a Tom Price problem. Recall that as the last weekend began Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price was at the center of a controversy over his use of exactly the kind of travel that was employed by then-Director Mueller. The story broke in Politico with this headline:

Price’s private-jet travel breaks precedent

Reported Politico: 

In a sharp departure from his predecessors, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price last week took private jets on five separate flights for official business, at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars more than commercial travel.

The secretary’s five flights, which were scheduled between Sept. 13 and Sept. 15, took him to a resort in Maine where he participated in a Q&A discussion with a health care industry CEO, and to community health centers in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, according to internal HHS documents.

The travel by corporate-style jet comes at a time when other members of the Trump administration are under fire for travel expenditures, and breaks with the practices of Obama-era secretaries Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Kathleen Sebelius, who flew commercially while in the continental United States.

Got that? Tom Price “took private jets on five separate flights for official business” — and is now fired for it by the President. Yet the now Special Counsel Robert Mueller, when serving as Director of the FBI, took some undetermined portion “of 395 unclassified nonmission flights” using government jets.

Note well that Politico also reported this when Price reimbursed the government for trips to Europe and Africa costing taxpayers some $500,000:

Price pledged on Thursday to reimburse the government for the cost of his own seat on his domestic trips using private aircraft — reportedly around $52,000 — but that would not include the cost of the military flights.

Thus the question: Did Robert Mueller (not to mention then-Attorney General Eric Holder) reimburse the government just for his own seat on what the GAO describes as “unclassified nonmission flights” — which is what Price did? Or did Mueller do what Price did not — pay for the full cost of the flights in question. Since the cost of these flights would undoubtedly run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars if not several millions, one can reasonably suspect Mueller did exactly what Price did — pay only for the cost of his seat.

In which case? Why, if he did exactly what Price did, is he back in government at all?

The real question here? When will the liberal media that demanded Price’s resignation (as here in the Huffington Post) start demanding Mueller’s resignation for doing what Price did? During the Price episode five Democrats in the House — Ruben Gallego of Arizona, Ted Lieu of California, Brenda Lawrence of Michigan, Jamie Raskin of Maryland, and Pramila Jayapal of Washington — all demanded that Price resign. Strangely, now that word of Mueller’s abuse is out the cat seems to have gotten their Progressive Caucus tongues.

There can be no dispute that Price was in the wrong and President Trump was right to fire him. The question now is if liberals will demand Mueller’s resignation — or give him a pass because they want an investigation of the President.

Don’t hold your breath.

 

Jeffrey Lord
Jeffrey Lord
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 Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Jack Kemp and Ronald Reagan. An author and CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com and @JeffJlpa1. His new book, What America Needs: The Case for Trump, is now out from Regnery Publishing.
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