DOJ appoints Robert Mueller special counsel for Russia investigation

Robert Mueller, a former prosecutor who served as the FBI director from 2001 to 2013, has been appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to serve as special counsel to investigate Russian interference in the U.S. election, etc. Rosenstein explained:

In my capacity as acting attorney general, I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a special counsel to assume responsibility for this matter. My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. I have made no such determination. What I have determined is that based upon the unique circumstances the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command.

In my view, this is an unfortunate development because, as a general matter, I think people appointed to these kinds of position often abuse them. As Quin Hilyer says of “special prosecutors,” they tend to operate at least somewhat outside the usual chain of command, without the usual constraints, and with a perverse incentive to “get a scalp.”

However, it seems clear to me that that President Trump brought this on himself.

At least now, maybe Trump can select a FBI director with a strong anti-crime, anti-terrorism record, rather than a “bipartisan” personality who pleases Democrats.

I’m sure we’ll have more to say about this move, and about Mueller, as the dust settles.

JOHN adds: I agree that this is a mistake. The Democrats want endless investigations, not because they will turn up anything of note–they won’t–but because they will hamstring the administration and lead to countless adverse headlines. Appointing a special prosecutor pretty much guarantees, I am afraid, that the Democrats will get their way.

Mueller isn’t a bad choice, as far as I know, and probably is better than some who could have been considered. But the special prosecutor concept is flawed from its inception. The pressures are all in bad directions.