How would you like to have a high-profile job with no firm guidelines for what you have to do, and plenty of money to help you hire as many people as you want to help you do whatever it is you decide to do for as long as you want the job?
If so, you qualify for a job as a Special Counsel at the United States Department of Justice.
But you'll probably have to wait until former FBI Director Robert Mueller finishes his current run as special counsel, and by the time that happens, you may be ready for retirement.
Ostensibly, this special counsel is investigating possible Russian influence in the 2016 election, something for which no evidence was found during months of research prior to the special counsel’s appointment.
In appointing the special counsel, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein said: “My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. I have made no such determination.” The job of the special counsel, then, is what?
Since no crime was identified needing investigation, Mueller has carte blanche to investigate whomever he wants for whatever he can find to assist him in whatever it is that he has decided to try to prove actually happened.
This is not an attack on Robert Mueller; it is about a process that is often well below the extraordinary standards of an honest, limited and responsive government of the people intended “to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,” as established by the U.S. Constitution.
Mueller, in fact, was acknowledged as an honorable man and competent attorney when he was appointed. Back in May, conservative columnist Hugh Hewitt wrote this: “In Mueller, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has made an excellent choice that will allow Republicans to again concentrate on turning the country around.”
However, Hewitt went on to say, “It’s true that I have opposed a special prosecutor in the past,” and one reason was that “if the allegations of the politicization of the IRS during Barack Obama’s presidency didn’t warrant a special prosecutor, then this one certainly isn’t necessary now.”
Good, ethical guy or not, having accepted the job, Mueller is now under the gun to produce something. Faced with humiliation after hiring 17 Democrat lawyers, spending thousands or millions of dollars on a months-long, open-ended investigation and coming away empty handed is a result no self-respecting special counsel wants on their record.
An article in The Washington Post notes, “Thus, the idea of a special prosecutor makes sense, in theory. In practice, some investigations headed by special prosecutors have rung up huge tabs while producing modest results.”
To wit: Back in 2003, a CIA employee named Valerie Plame was “outed,” meaning her name and association with the CIA became public knowledge. An Office of the Special Counsel investigation ensued, with Patrick Fitzgerald in charge. After the investigation, a George W. Bush administration official, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, was charged, tried and convicted of making false statements to the grand jury and federal investigators. And, a New York Times reporter, Judith Miller, spent twelve weeks in jail for protecting the identity of a source from the grand jury.
In summary: a crime was committed, an investigation began, a journalist went to jail for protecting a source, a person was convicted for lying about things unrelated to solving the crime, and no one was found guilty of the crime. Such is what can happen with special counsel investigations.
In the current incarnation, an effort is under way allegedly to find someone associated with President Donald Trump who perhaps did something naughty he/she shouldn’t have done with the Russians during the campaign. Thus far the apparent focus is on Paul Manafort, who managed Donald Trump’s campaign until August of 2016, and who lived in Trump Tower where Trump lived during the campaign.
Manafort was the subject of federal wiretaps before the campaign in 2014, and again in 2016, either during the campaign or perhaps after he had left it. It is fair to ask who else, if anyone, in Trump Tower was wiretapped during the campaign.
When Trump suggested his campaign had been wiretapped, Democrats, liberals and much of the media ridiculed him. Could they have been wrong?
More recently, Mueller and his investigation have come under some criticism, with some characterizing the exercise as a waste of time and a distraction, others calling it a partisan witch-hunt, and one person suggesting a serious crime is being committed.
A retired United States Navy Commander has accused Mueller and other Federal Bureau of Investigation employees of treason for supposedly trying to sabotage President Donald Trump.
Mueller’s team may find an actual election-related crime was committed. Or, more likely, the only wrongs it discovers are unrelated to the Russians or the election, but can serve as leverage to help the special counsel persuade someone to “flip” and provide incriminating information against someone in the Trump campaign.
There are at least 5,000 federal criminal laws, and between 10,000 and 300,000 regulations that can be enforced criminally. Odds are that someone from the Trump campaign will have violated one of them.