- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 23, 2019

Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican, drew parallels Friday between special counsel Robert Mueller and disgraced actor Jussie Smollett.

One of President Trump’s most devout supporters on Capitol Hill, Mr. Gaetz took to Twitter following the completion of Mr. Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference to compare the special counsel’s findings to the claims made by Mr. Smollett, the former “Empire” star accused of lying to police about being assaulted by two men who supposedly referenced Mr. Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” or MAGA.

“The Mueller Report is in. Turns out all along it was two Nigerian men in #MAGA hats who hacked the DNC & rode shirtless on horseback w Putin to mar-a-lago,” Mr. Gaetz tweeted.

The Department of Justice announced Friday that Mr. Mueller had completed his investigation into matters related to the 2016 race, nearly two years since the former FBI director was appointed to probe allegations involving Russian election interference and possible coordination between Moscow and Mr. Trump’s campaign. Attorney General William Barr said he is reviewing Mr. Mueller’s report and may inform members of Congress about its contents as soon as this weekend.

A total of 34 people and three companies criminally charged as a result the special counsel’s probe prior to its conclusion, including several Russians accused of hacking the Democratic National Committee, or DNC, and obtaining sensitive materials subsequently leaked online in the race’s final months. President Vladimir Putin has denied responsibility, contrary to the conclusions reached by U.S. federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

Mr. Smollett, 36, claimed he was assaulted earlier this year near his Chicago apartment by two men, including one who supposedly said: “This is MAGA country.” He has since been charged with more than a dozen related felony counts, including filing a false police report, after two American-Nigerian brothers told police that they were paid by the actor to stage the stunt. He has pleaded not guilty.

Elected to Congress in 2016, Mr. Gaetz routinely attacked Mr. Mueller’s investigation during the course of its run, frequently echoing Mr. Trump in labeling it a “witch hunt.” He called on Mr. Mueller to resign months following his appointment as special counsel, and he was one of four Republicans who voted “present” when the House voted 420-0 this month in support of Mr. Barr publicly releasing the results of the Russia probe.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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