Earlier today, I questioned Eli Lake’s view that Rod Rosenstein did President Trump a favor by appointing Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate Russian involvement in the U.S. election, etc. This Wall Street Journal editorial contends that Rosenstein did no favor to anyone other than the Democrats and their allies.
The Journal argues:
While the [appointment of Mueller] will provide some short-term political relief, not least for Mr. Rosenstein, it also opens up years of political risk to the Trump Administration with no guarantee that the public will end up with any better understanding of what really happened.
The problem with special counsels, as we’ve learned time and again, is that they are by definition all but politically unaccountable. While technically Mr. Rosenstein could fire Mr. Mueller if he goes too far, the manner of his appointment and the subject he’s investigating make him de facto untouchable even if he becomes an abusive Javert like Patrick Fitzgerald during the George W. Bush Administration.
What the country really needs is a full accounting of how the Russians tried to influence the election and whether any Americans assisted them. That is fundamentally a counterintelligence investigation, but Mr. Mueller will be under pressure to bring criminal indictments of some kind to justify his existence. He’ll also no doubt bring on young attorneys who will savor the opportunity to make their reputation on such a high-profile investigation.
I agree. Mueller’s sterling reputation — a reputation similar to James Comey at one time — does not change the analysis. As the Journal concludes:
Mr. Mueller has experience in counterintelligence and at 72 years old has nothing to prove. But he is also a long-time Washington player close to the FBI whose director was recently fired, and he is highly attuned to the political winds. As they say in Washington, lawyer up.
The Journal isn’t being hyperbolic. Jay Goldberg, a longtime private attorney for President Trump, says he has advised the White House that Trump should hire a personal lawyer to help him navigate the waters Mueller’s expedition will likely visit.
Sadly, that’s probably good advice.