The collision between President Donald J. Trump and the FBI has its counterpart – and ramifications regarding the soul of the GOP – in the developing 2nd Congressional District Republican Primary, where frontrunner Hirsh Singh – a Trump backer who wants the President to fire special prosecutor Robert Mueller – faces criticism from Robert “Turk” Turkavage, a retired special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Singh backs Trump, who’s at odds with the FBI, the agency from which Turkavage retired.
The Republican Party built a pre-Trump brand as the law and order party. That’s Turkavage’s view in any event, which puts him especially at odds now with the Trump-defending Singh, the CD2 frontrunner based on his having won half (four of eight) the county lines in CD2. In his speeches to rank and file Republicans at county conventions last month, Singh routinely identified himself as pro Trump. Presenting himself as moderate, Turkavage, for his part, won a single line.
Earlier this week, in the aftermath of the FBI raiding the offices of Trump’s attorney, Singh told
InsiderNJ that Trump should immediately fire Mueller.
At the Cumberland GOP Convention last month, Turkavage disagreed with at assessment; and still does, but with a more emphatic exclamation point and objection to Singh as that race to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-2) intensifies.
“The statements he has made in the past are following a pattern of almost inflammatory rhetoric,” Turkavage told InsiderNJ. “His rhetoric is reckless from a legal standpoint and from a political standpoint.”
Turkavage, who was a special agent on the day the towers came down on September 11,2001, outlined the legal and of his argument.
“Mueller was hired as special counsel,” he said. “The department has guidelines for a special counsel that are very specific, and they come into play where the department perceives a conflict. The departmental rules allow for the appointment of a special prosecutor. During an investigation, if there is an expansion during that course of time, if the special prosecutor wants to expand that investigation, it is the duty of the special counsel to inform attorney general, or in the case of a conflict, a deputy counsel.”
That’s what Mueller did, resulting in the FBI earlier this week seizing documents in the law offices of Trump’s attorney, which InsiderNJ legal analyst Joe Hayden probes here.
“Singh has a habit of conflating circumstances,” Turkavage said. “The special counsel can only be removed for cause; if he is exceeding guidelines or showing inappropriate conduct. There’s no evidence of that. There came a point where Mueller wanted to expand the investigation. He touched base with the deputy attorney general, who made the decision to take this portion of the investigation and assign this to the district of New York. The prosecutor has done nothing illegal.”
Turkavage said the firing of Mueller would be a horrendous political course of action for the Republican Party.
“My concern politically if Mueller were fired is it would ignite a firestorm such as we have not seen,” said the CD2 candidate. “Republicans would lose control of the senate and house. It would make the President less effective and could result in his impeachment. You have to be very careful with the rhetoric. Mr. Singh has a habit of using rhetoric that is incendiary and divisive. If we’re seeing a sample of this now with the kind of candidate he is, I hope it gives the voters pause regarding how he would fare as congressman.”
InsiderNJ asked Turkavage about a forthcoming book, written by his former boss, former FBI Director James Comey, which details the inside of Trump’s White House and characterizes the behaviors of the President as those of an immoral and degenerative mob boss.
“Unfortunately, I haven’t read the book,” Turkavage said. “I have heard excerpts of that book, but I can’t comment on it right now. It would be premature for me to say anything about it before I try to flesh it out. That’s what I do. I research things. We don’t need that divisive, inflammatory rhetoric anymore. We need people to come to conclusions based on fact.
“Mr. Singh’s conclusions are based on divisive rhetoric instead of a fact pattern, and I just hope voters see that,” Turkavage added.
InsiderNJ asked the Singh Campaign for a response.
“The special counsel is a political entity constituted by a man [Rod Rosenstein] whose wife worked to protect President Obama and Secretary Clinton from Freedom of Information Act Requests,” said Singh Campaign Manager Michael D. Byrne. “The lawyers employed by the special counsel have donated over $60,000 to Democrat candidates including nearly $20,000 to Hillary Clinton. It is a microcosm of the Swamp. It has exhausted its purpose to investigate the baseless Russia allegations. It now exists only to topple the Constitutionally-elected President, and it should be dissolved.”