Robert
Mueller.
Alex Wong/Getty
Images

  • President Donald Trump has gotten a huge boost from a
    handful of conservative House members in his quest to counter
    special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
  • Many of those congressmen are members of the
    conservative Freedom Caucus.
  • Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows told Business
    Insider that his members have taken the lead on battling
    Mueller because they have a disproportionate number of their
    members on a key committee.

While President Donald Trump has spent months seeking to
delegitimize special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, a small
group of conservative congressmen has done much of the heavy
lifting in combating the investigation.

There’s Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, a
freshman who is close to the Freedom Caucus and has led the
right-wing charge to tear down the special counsel while focusing
attention on 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton
and the 2010 Uranium One deal that has garnered much attention in
the conservative press. In November, he even helped introduce a
high-profile resolution to remove Mueller from the investigation.
And he was influential in the effort to call for a second special
counsel to investigate Clinton.

Late last year, Gaetz accused Mueller and his team of staging a
“coup d’etat” against Trump.

A representative for Gaetz did not return a request for comment
from Business Insider.

Meanwhile, Freedom Caucus heavyweights like Reps. Jim Jordan,
Mark Meadows, Ron DeSantis, Louie Gohmert, and others have taken
aim at Mueller, Clinton, the FBI, the Department of Justice,
Attorney General Jeff
Sessions
, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein,
providing the White House with much-needed backup. They’ve taken
aim at the probe in high-profile congressional hearings, held
press conferences to criticize what they characterized as
conflicts of interests among investigators working on the probe,
and have reiterated some of the president’s favorite talking
points, pointing to a “deep state” conspiracy.

Trump himself has taken
notice. 

“Great congressmen, in particular, some of the congressmen have
been unbelievable in pointing out what a witch hunt the whole
thing is,” he told The New York Times last
month
.

Matt GaetzMatt
Gaetz.
AP Photo/Steve
Cannon

Some of the congressmen have been in touch with the
administration to discuss the probe. Gaetz and DeSantis
reportedly discussed the probe with Trump during an Air Force One
flight last month. Asked in a CNN interview about
whether he has discussed the probe with the administration,
Jordan hinted that he talks with the White House “about all kinds
of things.”

Meadows, the Freedom Caucus chairman, told Business Insider on
Thursday that the handful of conservative members have been
outspoken because a large number of them hold seats on the House
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and have unique
concerns and insights that members who defend Mueller and
Sessions don’t have.

In total, nine of the 24 members of the Oversight Committee are
Freedom Caucus members.

“A number of the more conservative members are on Oversight, so
we get to see a little bit more clearly the lack of information
coming from DOJ and the FBI,” he said.

He also noted that Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California, who
has also worked to counter the Mueller’s investigation as
chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is not among the
more conservative group. He praised Nunes as having “done great
work” in that regard.

Fighting Mueller is consistent with the viewpoints that got
Freedom Caucus members elected

Former Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who served as chairman of
the Oversight Committee, agreed with Meadows’ assessment of why
his members were so active on this front. Chaffetz, now a Fox
News personality, told Business Insider on Friday that the
Freedom Caucus’s efforts on fighting Mueller, Sessions, and
Clinton are “compatible with their personal, political viewpoints
and probably in large part what got them elected.”

Chaffetz added that, at least on the Hillary Clinton front, many
of those same Freedom Caucus members who joined him in pushing
for further investigations figured that the Trump administration,
and Sessions in particular, would further that cause
and “accelerate the opportunities to reveal the truth.”

“I think they’re understanding that the ‘deep state’ continues on
regardless of who’s in power,” Chaffetz said. “You still have to
fight the beast in order to extract truth. And that’s a hard
uphill battle, but you have good people like Mark Meadows and Jim
Jordan who are helping to lead that charge.”

Chaffetz is set to release a book in September titled “The Deep
State: How an Army of Bureaucrats Protected Barack Obama and Is
Working to Destroy Donald Trump.”

Asked why more mainstream conservatives haven’t linked up with
the Freedom Caucus in their war against the “deep state,”
Chaffetz said most of his former colleagues “don’t necessarily
want the fight in order to extract the truth.”

“They’re just not prone to it, they have other legislative
goals,” he said. “But the Oversight Committee, this is what we
do. … Not every member wants to be in that combative role of
extracting the truth, and that’s often what it takes.”

‘These guys are political nihilists’

Matt Mackowiak, a Republican strategist and president of the
Potomac Strategy Group, told Business Insider that he believes
the Freedom Caucus and closely-connected conservatives are not
ramping up their efforts in hopes of garnering favor from the
White House, but because they really “think the inquiry is
tainted by what has been learned.”

“It’s really that simple,” he said. The Freedom Caucus “is a
principled group.”

While the Freedom Caucus has made a huge effort to echo Trump on
the Russia investigation, they have, at times, been a thorn in
the administration’s side when it comes to some of its major
legislative pushes, such as on repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Reed Galen, a Republican strategist who formerly served as Sen.
John McCain’s deputy campaign manager for his 2008 presidential
bid, said there are a couple of reasons why conservatives have
rallied behind Trump on this cause.

Among them is that Trump “best represents” what their idea of
government should be, and the members “probably really believe in
the ‘deep state’ and black helicopters.”

“These guys are political nihilists,” he said. “They don’t
believe in government, they don’t like and don’t want to
contribute to legislative progress.” This allows them to work “on
discrediting the state from their perch within it.”

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