Robert Mueller, a former FBI director (12 years), has just been appointed to head the investigation into Russia’s involvement in the last US presidential election with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The appointment was made by very recently appointed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
What is a Special Counsel for Trump/Russia?
With the expiration of the Ethics in Government Act that permitted Congress to appoint a special prosecutor, which brought Archibald Cox Jr. in to head the investigation into Richard Nixon, a new law would have to be passed to name a new Special Prosecutor through the Congress.
Nixon famously later fired Cox, which led to Nixon appointee Chief Justice Warren Burger ruling for Cox against Nixon. All this led directly to Nixon being forced to resign, the first and so far only U.S. president to resign.
Because of the firing by President Nixon, there is a newer law which makes an FBI Special Counsel completely independent – he can’t be fired by President Trump.
The position of special counsel in the FBI is the exact equivalence of the job Archibald Cox held in investigating Nixon. An FBI Special Counsel has the ability to subpoena records and compel people, even the president, to answer questions under oath and on the record. That is what got President Clinton in trouble – he lied to the investigator under oath.
Highly respected, Robert Mueller was initially appointed to head the FBI by George W. Bush (the junior Bush) and approved by the Senate in a 98 to 0 vote. Director Mueller remained in office for 12 years because Barack Obama liked him and asked him to stay on past his original 10-year appointment because he was so highly respected and non-partisan.
A special counsel also has the power to bring criminal charges, which makes his position and investigation a very different kind of animal from all the investigations being held in Congress.
Will This Slow Down the Trump/Russia Investigation?
Some will wonder if putting a new person in charge of an investigation already in progress will delay things because it will have to move outside the FBI. The actual mechanics of this new appointment may not delay any initial investigation in progress because the FBI special agents who are currently managing the case now will continue doing exactly the same thing unless assigned new targets and leads by the new Special Counsel. In other words, the FBI investigation will continue and the agents will now simply report to Robert Mueller instead of Rod Rosenstein.
But, while the preliminary work will continue unimpaired, it is certain to be some time before the new investigation can get down to interviewing people (such as President Trump) and organizing what is likely to be a massive investigation. Special Counsel Mueller will have to locate and rent secure office space and begin to hire clerical staff as well as select FBI special agents who will become part of the long and detailed investigation.
However, Mueller is a very experienced prosecutor and investigator who will begin working in the FBI building so it is unlikely this investigation will be seriously delayed. It will take up to a year or more to complete but only because it will now be much more detailed and in depth.
It is really important to understand just how widely this investigation can become. For example, the Clinton impeachment trial all began with Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr investigating the White Water real estate deal and ended with Monica Lewinski.
This newly appointed Special Counsel is charged initially with investigating Russian interference with the 2016 election but the investigation could be extended to other matters such as President Trump’s connections with Russia.
The person who will exclusively be in charge of deciding just what constitutes a related matter will be the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller. He and he alone will be able to extend the investigation to any person or possible crime he feels is related to the Russian investigation.
The immediate response from President Trump or Sean Spicer to this appointment was a very mild one, merely saying that he expects this to exonerate him.
Mueller is probably the most respected non-partisan investigator and prosecutor in the U.S. today. The investigation will move out of FBI headquarters and be completely independent of any influence from Trump appointees or the president himself.
The Justice Department has outlined the timeline of this appointment. Attorney General Jeff Sessions wasn’t informed until after the order was signed by the Deputy Attorney General because he had recused himself from the investigation due to his own contacts with the Russians. The White House was only informed one hour before the public announcement.
Naming a special counsel is a major step, far more serious than the House or Senate investigations. The move has just raised the bar because the investigation will now continue for as much as several years and President Trump can’t fire anyone involved.
Considering that President Trump keeps referring to the FBI Russia investigation as a hoax being perpetrated by the Democrats to cover up for losing the election, he is probably not going to be happy with this new development.
Since candidate Donald Trump famously called on Russia to aid him by hacking his opponent Secretary Clinton, this clip is likely to be part of any investigation into the “hoax.”
Robert Mueller is so highly respected that this is certain to cause even more turmoil in a White House already rumored to be floundering after several weeks of President Trump contradicting his own surrogates and even Vice President Mike Pence.
End of Trump Tweet Storms?
Since President Trump will now need a personal criminal lawyer, this is likely to tone down or stop his tweeting completely because any lawyer would tell him that he doesn’t dare tweet anything even remotely related to Russia, or Clinton, or the FBI, or the investigation, or elections.
This reporter asked a former Bronx prosecutor who told NewsBlaze that, “any decent lawyer will demand that President Trump either stop tweeting or get another lawyer.”
URGENT UPDATE: Thursday A.M. 12 hours later Trump attacks Special Counsel, calling it “This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”
What Will Change?
Although there is no way to predict what the results of the investigation will be, it is easy to see that almost any of Trump’s big projects from tax reform, to health care, to destroy the EPA, to infrastructure, to the infamous Mexico Wall, will all be delayed.
The White House is already having great difficulty keeping an eye on the ball, staying focused, and getting anything real accomplished. Consider how much worse it will be in a White House where anyone could suddenly become the focus of an investigation, or have to raise money to pay for a lawyer to accompany them to an interview, or just trying to keep the President from doing something else incredibly inappropriate, such as his commencement speech to the Coast Guard Academy today when he spoke almost entirely about himself and how badly he has been treated.