'Nonpartisan' Mueller Investigation-Focused Group Tied to Dem Dark Money

'Protect the Investigation' is a project of the Sixteen Thirty Fund

Robert Mueller, special counsel on the Russian investigation
Robert Mueller, special counsel on the Russian investigation / Getty Images
April 25, 2019

A "nonpartisan" group launched to "protect" Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into President Donald Trump that is now pushing for the release of the full, un-redacted Mueller Report is tied to a liberal dark money organization.

Protect the Investigation, which describes itself as a "nonpartisan" initiative formed to "educate the American people about the importance of the special counsel investigation and its findings," is a project of the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) "fiscal sponsor" that is used as a pass-through entity for big money Democratic donors.

Protect the Investigation is a registered trade name—or fictitious name—by the Sixteen Thirty Fund with the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, records show. The name was registered on June 28, 2018 and is scheduled to expire on June 27, 2020.

"The Special Counsel investigation was a probe into Russian interference during the 2016 election that charged 37 people and entities of criminal wrongdoing, including Trump's campaign chairman," the group writes. "The American people demand to know what the Special Counsel Robert Mueller found, and the Department of Justice must release the full, original report with all the underlying evidence."

Several of Protect the Investigation's "partner organizations" are tied to Arabella Advisors, a D.C.-based social venture firm that provides consulting to liberal philanthropy endeavors. The Sixteen Thirty Fund falls under the umbrella of Arabella Advisors. Arabella Advisors is managed by Eric Kessler, a former Bill Clinton appointee and member of the Clinton Global Initiative. Douglas Hattaway, owner of Hattaway Communications, a D.C.-based strategic communications firm that has represented the likes of George Soros's Open Society Foundations and the Center for American Progress, a left-wing group founded by former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, directs the Sixteen Thirty Fund.

One such partner of Protect the Investigation that is also tied to Arabella is Demand Justice, which is also a project of the Sixteen Thirty Fund.

Demand Justice is led by Brian Fallon, Clinton's former campaign spokesman, and is geared towards fighting Trump's "takeover" of federal courts. The group was first pitched to the Democracy Alliance, the left's largest dark money donor network that was co-founded by Soros, at its Spring 2018 conference, according to documents previously obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Another partner, Tax March, is also a registered trade name of the Sixteen Thirty Fund, which has given at least $921,000 in grants to partners of Tax March.

Protect the Investigation's goals have shifted over the months.

In September 2018, Protect the Investigation claimed that democracy was "under attack" because of Russian interference in the election and argued the Mueller investigation was important in uncovering ties between President Trump and the Russian government. In November 2018, the group claimed that the investigation had "repeatedly been undermined by Trump." The group is now calling for the full, un-redacted version of the Mueller Report be released.

Five days before Attorney General William Barr released a brief summary of the Mueller report, GBAO, a Democratic firm, held focus group sessions with Iowans in an attempt to see how Americans would process the Mueller Report. The GBAO research sessions were conducted on behalf of Protect the Investigation.

Many individuals on Protect the Investigation's advisory board have suggested Trump should be impeached.

Before the release of the Mueller report, Asha Rangappa, a senior lecturer at Yale's Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and CNN legal and national security analyst, argued that there might be grounds for impeachment.

"Reupping this piece explaining why being manipulated by a foreign power while POTUS – even if it doesn't 'break the law' – is still, and perhaps especially, grounds for impeachment," Rangappa wrote on Twitter in early April, linking to a Politico piece on Trump's Moscow deal.

Following the release of the Mueller Report, Rangappa later retweeted an article titled, "The Mueller Report is an Impeachment Referral."

Max Bergmann, another board member who is also a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, in 2018 told his followers on Twitter to "normalize impeachment." Bergmann later stated that the Mueller Report laid out a case for obstruction of justice.

"Commentators need to stop saying no criminal conduct was revealed. There was!" Mueller laid out obstruction of justice," Bergmann tweeted. "This is a crime! He explicitly said he c/dn't make a 'prosecutorial judgment.' But he laid out a crime! One that also impacted the conspiracy investigation."

Bergmann retweeted an article that criticized House Democrats for not weighing in on impeachment following the release of the Mueller Report.

Ned Price, who worked for the Central Intelligence Agency until February 2017 when he published on op-ed explaining why he quit over Trump taking office, also sits on the advisory board.

A recent investigation by the Capital Research Center found that the elaborate dark money operations that fall under Arabella Advisors has facilitated $1.6 billion from left-wing donors in recent years through its pass through "fiscal sponsor" entities that house groups and initiatives such as the Sixteen Thirty Fund in recent years.

Protect the Investigation did not respond to requests for comment by press time.