In a pair of posts, Scott asks “What is to be done?” now that Robert Mueller has caused the office, home, and hotel room of Michael Cohen to be raided. Scott lays out several options and notes some of their shortcomings.
Last night, in my first take on the raid, I considered one option, firing Mueller. I felt I needed more information before advocating this “nuclear” option. I still do.
Of the other moves Scott describes, two strike me as worthy of strong consideration: pardon Michael Cohen and fire Rod Rosenstein.
If Michael Cohen’s only “crime” is paying Stormy Daniels, then two things appear to be true. First, the raid is the result of Mueller going well beyond the proper scope of his assignment. Second, the “crime” is not one that would be prosecuted absent an ulterior motive.
These facts would justify a pardon, in my view.
It’s unusual, though, to pardon someone who has not yet been criminally charged. Doing so might make it appear that Cohen actually committed a crime and that Trump is moving to save himself. Thus, if Trump is inclined to pardon Cohen, he needs to think carefully about the timing. The advantages of a prompt pardon are: (1) it would relieve Cohen of considerable pressure and (2) it would send a signal to Mueller that his hyper-aggressive tactics can backfire.
As for Rosenstein, Scott is right to say that firing him might not solve the Mueller problem. But in my opinion, Rosenstein deserves to be fired for appointing a special counsel. Such an appointment is always an invitation to destroy. In this case, it was an invitation to destroy the Trump presidency.
The invitation was quite unnecessary. The Justice Department was quite capable of handling a Russia collusion investigation. Rosenstein simply didn’t want the trouble. He took the path of least resistance from his narrow perspective. It appears that, in overseeing Mueller, he continues to do so — another reason to fire him.
Firing Rosenstein might carry a political cost. But as long as it’s just Rosenstein, the firing would not have a Saturday Night Massacre quality, and any cost would likely be small. This is a move Trump should strongly consider making.