May 18th, 2017

Robert Mueller as been appointed special prosecutor for the Russia/Trump investigation

I think it was inevitable that something like this would be happening:

My decision (to appoint a special counsel) is not the finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. I have made no such determination,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a statement announcing the special counsel.

“I determined that a special counsel is necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome,” he said.

Special prosecutors are often a step down a slippery slope, because they tend to lead investigations that go on and on and on till they finally find something to prosecute, although it may be a tiny offense and a small fish. However, in this case I’m mostly in favor of the appointment because I actually think Rosenstein is correct, and that this may be a way to achieve a somewhat calmer state in which the press is not the chief prosecutor of a sitting president.

Who is Mueller? He was appointed by President George W. Bush, confirmed unanimously by the Senate, and took office as FBI director just one week before 9/11, serving his 10-year term in that position. He continued in the office for two years beyond that at Obama’s request, and was replaced in 2013 by Comey.

How objective will Mueller be in this role? I cannot predict, but I caution that when Comey first took office he was uniformly praised as incredibly intelligent and fair. We all know how that worked out. But one can hope. Erick Erickson thinks Mueller’s appointment is a very good thing, and he offers his reasons why here.

[ADDENDUM: Mueller has actually been appointed special counsel, not special prosecutor, but the differences are very minor:

The terms are largely interchangeable to refer to someone appointed to investigate allegations that could involve a conflict of interest within the Department of Justice. But the manner in which they are appointed and why has changed over time. ]

19 Responses to “Robert Mueller as been appointed special prosecutor for the Russia/Trump investigation”

  1. AesopFan Says:

    Well, I’ve already weighed in on a couple of threads with what I think about Erickson’s source in re the Russian Meeting.
    However, I think he is correct here, but doubt the Dems will just let it go at the end of Mueller’s investigation if he clears Trump. IF he doesn’t clear Trump, or finds a host of other hares to pursue, the GOP will cry foul.
    So, is that win-win, or lose-lose?

    “Most importantly, however, it allows some breathing room between scandals. Now, the White House can say they cannot discuss the matter because of the Mueller investigation. Likewise, they can claim that any leaks must be false because Mueller would never leak. They can dismiss a large part of the story out of hand.

    All that makes the appointment of Robert Mueller a no brainer, but there is something more important going on as well. The odds are that the Department of Justice would not launch this sort of investigation if they did not already have an inkling of there being no real issues with the president. If they were really concerned about the president, they would keep this in house where they could exercise greater damage control.”

    (a) Mueller leaking would not be the problem; the holes are in the rest of the FBI-WH-etc sieve.
    (b) there are real issues with the President, but firing Comey (substance not process) to shut down investigations isn’t one of the serious ones.

  2. Ray Says:

    I didn’t think Comey was so great. I thought his appointment as director of the FBI was a reward for the Libby prosecution. Remember that Comey appointed his friend Patrick Fitzgerald as special prosecutor in the Valerie Plame case. Fitzgerald quickly discover the blabbermouth was Armitage at the State Dept. and concluded no law was broken. He then broadened his investigation into possible mishandling of classified information, i.e. a fishing expedition. Comey approved the fishing expedition. This is what happens with special prosecutors.

  3. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    I would ask just one question of Robert Mueller. Does he agree with Comey that Hillary’s intent or lack thereof, absolved her from prosecution?

    His answer would tell me all I need know of his integrity and be perfectly predictable of his future findings as special counsel.

  4. AesopFan Says:

    Here are some interesting thoughts that go deeper into the looming crisis.
    By Robert W. Merry, longtime Washington, D.C., journalist and publishing executive, who is editor of The American Conservative.

    “America is in crisis. It is a crisis of greater magnitude than any the country has faced in its history, with the exception of the Civil War. It is a crisis long in the making—and likely to be with us long into the future. It is a crisis so thoroughly rooted in the American polity that it’s difficult to see how it can be resolved in any kind of smooth or even peaceful way. Looking to the future from this particular point in time, just about every possible course of action appears certain to deepen the crisis.

    What is it? Some believe it stems specifically from the election of Donald Trump, a man supremely unfit for the presidency, and will abate when he can be removed from office. These people are right about one thing: Trump is supremely unfit for his White House job. But that isn’t the central crisis; it is merely a symptom of it, though it seems increasingly to be reaching crisis proportions of its own.

    When Trump, marshaling this anti-elite resentment into a powerful political wave, won the presidential election last November, it was noted that he would be a minority president in the popular vote. But then so was Nixon; so was Clinton; so was Wilson; indeed, so was Lincoln. The Trump victory constituted a political revolution.

    Now comes the counterrevolution. The elites figure that if they can just get rid of Trump, the country can return to what they consider normalcy—the status quo ante, before the Trumpian challenge to their status as rulers of America. That’s why there is so much talk about impeachment even in the absence of any evidence thus far of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” That’s why the firing of James Comey as FBI director raises the analogy of Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre.” That’s why the demonization of Russia has reached a fevered pitch, in hopes that even minor infractions on the part of the president can be raised to levels of menace and threat.

    Consider the story of Trump’s revelation of classified information to Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador to the United States. No one disputes the president’s right to declassify governmental information at will, but was it wise in this instance? Certainly, it was reckless if he exposed sources and methods of intelligence gathering. But did he?

    The president and his top foreign policy advisers, who were present during the conversation, say he didn’t. The media and Trump’s political adversaries insist that he did, at least implicitly. We don’t know. But we do know that when this story reached the pages of The Washington Post, as a result of leaks from people around Trump who want to see him crushed, it led to a feeding frenzy that probably harmed American interests far more than whatever Trump may have said to those Russians. Instead of Trump’s indiscretion being confined to a single conversation with foreign officials, it now is broadcast throughout the world. Instead of, at worst, a hint of where the intelligence came from, everyone now knows it came from the Israelis. Instead of being able to at least pursue a more cooperative relationship with Russia on matters of mutual interest, Trump is once again forced back on his heels on Russian policy by government officials and their media allies—who, unlike Trump, were never elected to anything.

    Thus is the Trump crisis now superimposed upon the much broader and deeper crisis of the elites, which spawned the Trump crisis in the first place. Yes, Trump is a disaster as president. He lacks nearly all the qualities and attributes a president should have, and three and a half more years of him raises the specter of more and more unnecessary tumult and deepening civic rancor. It could even prove to be untenable governmentally. But trying to get rid of him before his term expires, absent a clear constitutional justification and a clear assent from the collective electorate, will simply deepen the crisis, driving the wedge further into the raw American heartland and generating growing feelings that the American system has lost its legitimacy.

    There is no way out for America at this point. Steady as she goes could prove highly problematic. A push to remove him could prove worse. Perhaps a solution will present itself. But, even if it does, it will rectify, with great societal disquiet and animosity, merely the Trump crisis. The crisis of the elites will continue, all the more intractable and ominous.”

  5. Yancey Ward Says:

    I am also of the same opinion as Erickson. I think the Russia Conspiracy investigation is actually near the end, too. The lack of an substantive and detailed leaks beyond the kind reported today in Reuters for example had long convinced me there was nothing to the story to begin with. However, even when you find nothing you still have to issue some kind of report and statement declaring your findings and decisions. Rosenstein surely realizes that if the findings are diddly squat, the Democrats heads will explode even more, so I think he appointed Mueller, and I think Mueller will actually do little more than examine in detail the investigation done to this point and then write the final report. I would expect a report and decision no later than October.

  6. steve walsh Says:

    Time will tell, but to me this is a purely political move. This was the most expeditious way to get the Russia related noise and nonsense, as being made by the press and Democrats, off the front page. Mueller seems to be a man of unimpeachable integrity – I fully expect no leaks from his team and work.

    Trump’s complaining sounds a bit like he fancies himself as Br’er Rabbit, “Whatever you do Br’er Fox, don’t throw me in that briar patch!”.

  7. blert Says:

    Mueller is NOT a Special Prosecuter.

    He’s a Special Counselor.

    His remit ALSO entails going after Hillary and Podesta… because they are ALSO connected ($$$$) to Putin.

  8. parker Says:

    Remember when investigating White Water shennanigans produced semen stains on a blue dress? There may be no choice but to turn to someone like Mueller to jump down the rabbit hole to grill the Red Queen if she peed on a bed in Moscow where Mr and Mrs Obama once slept, but in the end I strongly suspect its one of those nothing burgers that waste 500 million or more.

  9. Bill Says:

    “Trump’s complaining sounds a bit like he fancies himself as Br’er Rabbit, “Whatever you do Br’er Fox, don’t throw me in that briar patch!”.”

    Yes, he’s playing google-dimensioned dungeons and dragons while everyone else is playing checkers.

    Or maybe, just maybe, this is how Trump has always been – thin-skinned, with a very high revenge motive and self-aggrandizing/self-pity habit and he just doesn’t know what else to do. He’s 70 and he’s been this way for a long, long time

    If you just voted for “not Hillary” and perhaps “judges”, you should be relatively satisfied right now. If you voted for more – all his promises, etc, then this constant briar-patch activity, whether it’s planned by Trump or just him flinging poo, is not, I repeat, NOT helping you reach your goals. And if the Republicans lose congress in 2018 (well deserved, in this former GOP’s opinion, because they sold their souls for Trump) you can forget about ANY of it happening.

    And we’ll get what we have now – an ever more ridiculous reality show.

    I’m with PJ O’Rourke in his famous statement of wanting some dull Cincinattus in the Presidency to run the executive branch with quiet and economy. Trump is the absolute opposite of what a limited-government conservative should want – instead of having Washington become less and less important, we now live in a world where the President is in our faces 24×7, with every day producing it’s new controversy/outrage. I don’t care if he is doing all this on purpose or not – it’s not what we should want in a President.


  10. Beverly Says:

    Isn’t Erick Erickson a hardcore Trump-hater?

  11. Richard Saunders Says:

    Bill would rather see more Fast and Furious, more private e-mail servers, more Benghazis, more Clinton Pay-for-Play, more abortions, more coal miners out of work, more Obamacare, more gun control, more illegal immigration, more cuts to the defense budget, etc., etc., etc. than a loud-mouth, thin-skinned, bloviating asshole who appoints people like Gorsuch, Haley, Tillerson, Mattis, Kelley, Pritt, Sessions, etc., etc., etc.

    Fine, Bill, that’s your opinion, and you’re entitled to it.

    Trump reminds me of the story about Lincoln and Grant. Some high moralists complained that Grant was a drunkard. ““Ah!” exclaimed Honest Old Abe, “you surprise me, gentlemen. But can you tell me where he gets his whiskey?”

    “We cannot, Mr. President. But why do you desire to know?”

    “Because, if I can only find out, I will send a barrel of this wonderful whiskey to every general in the army.”

    I’d like to send whatever Trump drinks (Yes, I know it isn’t alcoholic) to every one of the wimps in Congress!

  12. Bill Says:

    Richard, I never said I wanted any of those things.

    I was a life long Republican who was against Trump as a candidate and against him as the nominee. I’m against him as President, because I think he’s going to mortally wound all the good parts of the GOP.

    Then you’ll get all those things the Democrats have to offer, in spades.

    I think Trump is a disaster. Period.

    Character is destiny. And his sucks.

  13. The Other Chuck Says:

    To compare a great Civil War general to a pusillanimous shirker takes a certain amount of chutzpah. On the other hand maybe there is a similarity since Grant is listed among the 10 worst presidents in our history.

  14. Big Maq Says:

    @Richard – the very things you point out (falsely) that Bill “wants”, is a projection of what your fear the dems will bring.

    The problem is, folks long ago, well before it was a fait accompli that trump was the candidate, placed their bet on him above all other choices.

    He was, in their (your?) judgement, acceptable, in all his flaws, because they wanted a “fighter” – as if that was all that was needed.

    It may sooth your conscience to claim that folks who see the flaws in trump and the trouble it brings as somehow wanting to see the dems in power, and perhaps that works for you, but you’d be flat wrong on that.

    There are many of us who think the premise of choosing trump was flawed from the start, and that much of the kind of things we are seeing today was in the scope of the predictable.

    So, water under the bridge, we are here now.

    What to do?

    Do we continue to go all in on supporting trump?

    It might progress somewhere if he can enact the conservative parts of the agenda (to say nothing of how trump hamstrings some of that).

    But, with all the controversy that he manages to drive himself, it is hard to see that much will get done. And, it doesn’t look like he is about to change.

    He has to build support beyond his core for the agenda. That is not happening.

    Since it is hampering, if not halting a conservative agenda, what does that buy us?

    Furthermore, all this self-driven controversy, without expanding support, what do the 2018 and 2020 elections look like?

    If trump ultimately proves to be dangerous that impeachment is not just a dem’s wet dream, but becomes an imminent urgency, what will become of our credibility for conservative brand of ideas, which trump and team are wrapping themselves with? for the next GOP candidate? what about longevity for anything good that happens under trump’s term?

    I want trump to be a success, in conservative terms, but even the possibility of that is looking increasingly dim.

  15. blert Says:


    Without Trump’s wall… the GOP will be demographically eliminated for all time.

    “Adios America.”

  16. Big Maq Says:

    Just came across this, and it hits on a number of points that the Richards and blerts of this world ought to pay attention to…

    “(imitating the dem’s playbook is) politically wrong, it’s wrong in concept, it’s wrong morally, and it represents a fundamental misunderstanding as to how the Left truly does prevail

    let’s dispense with the idea that blind and unrelenting loyalty is good politics.

    The (democratic) party is at its lowest ebb in generations. It doesn’t hold any branch of the federal government, and it’s being routed at the state level at a historic rate.

    My “side” isn’t just the side that supports limited government, the original meaning of the Constitution, and a strong (and realistic) commitment to national defense. It’s the side that supports those values with honor and integrity.

    There is a desperate need for a credible, independent investigation into Trump associates’ ties to foreign powers. Simply put, we need to know whose “team” they (manafort, flynn) were on.

    it’s simply childish to assert that another man’s misconduct and lies justify your own dishonesty

    And no, fighting with integrity doesn’t mean that you’re not fighting. One of the great hoaxes of the Trump era is the idea that fighting like Trump defines what it means to fight. False.

    The moment when social-justice hysteria and radical intolerance are causing millions of citizens to shake their heads is not the time to adopt fact-free brawling and blind loyalty as the signature styles of the American conservative movement.
    – David French

    In the end, without trust and credibility, you have nothing.

  17. Bill Says:

    Without Trump’s wall… the GOP will be demographically eliminated for all time.

    If the GOP decides it’s going to be the white peoples party, yeah.

  18. Richard Saunders Says:

    This is just nonsense, Bill, Big Maq, et al. This is not a dream world where Barry Goldwater or William F. Buckley or Thomas Sowell is running for President. This is a world where an asshole ran against a criminal. This is a world where after eight years of complaining about Obama, the GOP Congress had no healthcare plan ready to go, no tax plan ready to go, no immigration plan ready to go, ad infinitum.

    The saintly “Conservative” intellectuals like David French don’t actually have to do anything but punch a keyboard, let alone beat 16 other candidates and win a presidential election. Would any of them been able to win over the coal miners, the Border Patrol union;, and the FOP? Would any of them even thought to campaign in Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin?

    As far as I can tell, you’d prefer a bunch of “pure” Conservative intellectuals and ineffectual Congresscritters who are only comfortable in opposition, to an asshole who actually gets things done that conservatives claim to want. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. It says, “Feckless Conservative – Nothing Achieved Since 1988.” Would you like one?

    Are you against the Keystone and Dakota pipelines? Are you against building up the military? Are you against Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court? Are you against the failed-state travel suspension? Are you against getting China to allow in American products and put pressure on North Korea? Are you against rounding up thousands of criminal illegal aliens? I could go on and on, but why bother?

    Yes, TRUMP IS AN ASSHOLE! But he’s an asshole who has gotten more conservative things done in 100 days than all the “Conservatives” in Congress and all the writers on the National Review have gotten accomplished in 30 years.

    In the real world, that’s good enough for me.

  19. Bill Says:

    “Are you against the Keystone and Dakota pipelines? Are you against building up the military? Are you against Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court? Are you against the failed-state travel suspension? Are you against getting China to allow in American products and put pressure on North Korea? Are you against rounding up thousands of criminal illegal aliens? I could go on and on, but why bother?”

    Why bother? Because these are actually substantive questions. It’s kind of refreshing.

    I’m for most of the above, actually.

    Keystone and Dakota – I’m pro.

    Military? I’m . . . not knee-jerk pro. I was after 911. I’m not sure if we’re getting the best value for what we’re spending. But I’m one of those who doesn’t think the President should be able to unleash war without getting a Congressional Declaration of War (exceptions being in times of crisis – which the recent Syria bombing doesn’t qualify for). Every President promises the military that they are going to build it up, especially Republicans. It’s very mom and apple pie. But I want good solid analysis on this.

    And Trump’s comments about McCain (and by extension ALL POWs) were disqualifying, as far as I’m concerned. I mean, seriously – that REALLY SUCKED and went way beyond just A-hole status. He “likes people who don’t get captured”. Right. These guys suffered for years for his sorry butt. His Code-Pink assessment of GWB and the Iraq war also really torches me. OK, I’m ranting. He doesn’t deserve to be CIC, but there it is – he is. I’ll move on.

    Neil Gorsuch? VERY PRO

    “Are you against the failed-state travel suspension?”. I’m against Trump’s campaign rhetoric of a muslim ban, and I’m against the way at least the first one was rolled out.

    I’m for sane immigration. One of the saddest aspects of many in today’s GOP is the idea that we as a party will only survive if we keep things very, very white. (queue up several commenters to tell me that I’m ignoring reality, willfully blind, etc). Sane immigration – I am in IT and we would be hosed if we couldn’t hire the excellent resources we get from India. I also have a lot of hispanic friends (I live in a deep red border state) and it kind of p_sses me off the way they are represented.

    I’m against illegal immigration. Very pro deporting criminals.

    “Are you against getting China to allow in American products and put pressure on North Korea?”

    Well, if you put it that way 🙂 – For what it’s worth, NK has gotten more dangerous, not less, since Trump came into office. But I wish him the best of success here.

    I’m against some of his crazier economic isolationism. Very much against a lot of it.

    I’m in a wait and see mode regarding foreign policy. I’m not a fan of the way he’s been a jerk to some of our allies (Australia, Germany) – I don’t want to say I’m for “smart diplomacy” in the Obama mold, because I think it was ineffectual. But I’m for being smart and diplomatic. Walk softly, carry an (appropriately) big stick (see my point about military spending above).

    We’re not that far apart. I just don’t trust Trump and, while he’s done some good things (and some good things have happened on his watch) he’s also done a lot of dumb things and he’s spending political capital he doesn’t have.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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