To those who work alongside him, Robert Mueller is described as “someone who stepped right out of a history book.” Garrett Graff agrees. The author of the 2011 book, The Threat Matrix, Graff wrote a detailed portrait of the FBI under then-Director Mueller’s leadership.
Robert Mueller took charge of the FBI one week before 9/11. He became the first director to serve out the entirety of the 10-year term since J. Edgar Hoover and had his tenure extended for two additional years by a unanimous Senate vote. “It goes to show, in 2011, just how much of a bipartisan, apolitical figure Bob Mueller was in Washington,” Graff said.
Times have changed. As the special counsel overseeing the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, Mueller is now the constant target of partisan attacks. Graff, the executive director of the Aspen Institute’s Cybersecurity and Technology Program, discussed the special counsel’s investigation on the latest episode of Aspen Insight.
“Mueller has a very straightforward moral compass,” Graff said. “He sees things as black or white, right or wrong, true or false.” This is evident in the way he has interpreted the rules of the investigation, heavily and quickly charging those who lie to him. 13 Russian nationals and three companies have been indicted on conspiracy charges. One is the Internet Research Agency, described as a “troll farm” where Russian employees posed as US activists and posted politically charged content on social media.
Graff views Russia’s efforts as an attack on our democratic process— one that fundamentally reshaped US politics as well as Western democracies and alliances. He encouraged the White House to impose sanctions against Russia, a step taken on Thursday morning. “This shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” Graff said. “There’s absolutely no guarantee that the next time Russian meddles in our elections it’s going to be to help Donald Trump.”