How you define "hardened" is a judgment call. But if you measure by campaign donations, the point is overblown. Seven of the registered Democrats have no record of writing checks to federal candidates .
Based on federal disclosure data, Quarles is easily the most generous donor on the team, giving in excess of $35,000 over the better part of two decades. Most of these donations went to Democratic candidates or entities, but it’s worth noting that Quarles also made two donations totaling $2,750 to Republicans -- former Virginia Gov. George Allen and former Rep. Jason Chaffetz. He was the only team member to give donations to federal Republican candidates.
The second-most generous team member was Rhee, who gave $11,950 to Democrats in federal races. Weissman ranked third, with $6,600, followed by Andres and Goldstein, both of whom gave in the mid-$3,000 range.
Freeny, Prelogar, Van Grack and Atkinson also gave money in federal races, with donations from $200 to $800.
The Daily Caller found additional donations totaling a little less than $12,000 in state and local races by eight of the staff members. These donations were to Democrats.
So the donor on the team who gave the most money is also the only one to donate to Republican candidates as well. Four other staff members gave between $3,000 and $12,000 over a span of several years, four more gave donations only in the hundreds of dollars, and seven more didn’t give any money at all in federal races.
How much do these affiliations matter?
Mueller’s team has the legal right to register to vote with a party or by making personal donations. Such activities are protected under the Hatch Act, originally passed in 1939.
It’s also important to note that Mueller was prevented from considering political affiliation when putting together his team.
Both Justice Department policy and the Civil Service Reform Act "prohibit using political affiliation and may also prohibit using certain ideological affiliations in hiring and taking other personnel actions with regard to career attorneys," the department’s inspector general has written.
Moreover, the career attorneys on the Mueller team are bound by professional codes to pursue justice and rise above partisanship.
Every federal employee swears an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States" and "bear true faith and allegiance to the same." Lawyers practicing in the federal courts swear a separate oath "that as an attorney and as a counselor of this court, I will conduct myself uprightly and according to law, and that I will support the Constitution of the United States."
I realize that the above means nothing to people like you, never having had to swear that oath to enter either military service or government service. So you have no grounds to challenge the integrity of those who have taken that oath.
Brett Kappel, an attorney specializing in political law and government ethics at the firm Akerman LLP, said that in his experience, "Justice Department lawyers tend to skew towards the Democrats while FBI agents are overwhelmingly Republican . Both of them take an oath to dispense justice without fear or favor with regard to political party, and I’ve never seen anyone from either group act in a partisan way."
"I don’t think one should ever ask about party affiliation when it comes to prosecutors," Robenalt added. "They come in all stripes. The question is whether they are qualified — and as I understand it, the team assembled is highly qualified."
Robenalt said he wouldn’t advise young Justice Department lawyers to voluntarily eschew all political activity today for fear of getting attacked if they one day join a politically charged investigation.
"It is a First Amendment right and crucial to our democracy," he said. "My guess is most will stay away from politics, but our country was built on the idea of freedom of belief and expression."
One final point worth remembering is Trump's own history of donations to Clinton's U.S. Senate campaign (five, worth $4,100) and first presidential campaign (two, worth $2,300, though they were refunded in 2009.)
Trump tweeted that Mueller’s team has "13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans."
Mueller’s team does have 13 registered Democrats and no registered Republicans, and several team members made donations to Clinton’s campaign in various amounts.
However, Trump leaves out a crucial registered Republican — Mueller himself — and glosses over the fact that we don’t know the identities, or the partisan affiliation, of other Justice Department or FBI staff who are working with the investigation. It’s also questionable to say that the multiple non-donors are "hardened" Democrats.