Tag Archives: Robert Mueller

Turn the special counsel loose

If history is any guide, a special counsel investigation aimed at rooting out issues relating to the president of the United States and his alleged ties to Russia well could develop a life of its own.

Robert Mueller has been given the task of finding out whether Donald John Trump’s presidential campaign was complicit in Russian government efforts to swing the 2016 presidential election. He’s also going to examine possible links between a former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, to the Russians. Moreover, he has latitude to look into whether the president obstructed justice by “asking” former FBI Director James Comey to shut down a probe of Flynn’s ties to Russia.

Could there be even more to learn, beyond the official tasks given to Mueller — himself a former FBI director?

Mueller’s the man

We have some historical precedent to ponder.

Kenneth Starr once held the title of “independent prosecutor.” His duty in the 1990s was to look at a real estate venture involving President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Republican critics in Congress thought there were some shady circumstances that needed to be examined. Starr began poking around and discovered some evidence of a relationship between President Clinton and a young 20-something White House intern.

A federal grand jury summoned the president to testify. The president took an oath to tell the whole truth to the grand jury — and then he lied about his relationship.

Ah-hah! GOP House members then cobbled together an impeachment proceeding that charged the president with perjury and obstruction of justice. The House impeached the president. The Senate held its trial and he was acquitted.

Will history repeat itself? I have no clue. My guess is that special counsel Mueller doesn’t yet know where his probe will lead.

These matters do have a way of growing legs. The statute gives Mueller considerable leeway in his pursuit of the truth. The president cannot fire him; he can, though, order the Justice Department to do so. Let’s hope that Donald Trump resists that impulse. I know that’s a tall order, given the self-proclaimed joy he gets when he fires people.

But the Justice Department’s deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, has picked a serious legal heavyweight to do some seriously heavy lifting.

It’s time now for Robert Mueller to get busy. Rapidly.

Mueller pick enables Congress, POTUS to get back to work

One of my first takeaways from today’s blockbuster news about the appointment of a special counsel to probe the “Russia thing” suggests that Congress and the president can get back to actual work.

You know … governing!

Robert Mueller is going to lead the investigation into whether Russia colluded with the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 election; he’ll look at whether Donald Trump asked former FBI director James Comey to shut down a probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s Russia connection; he might even find some other things we haven’t even thought of … yet.

You’ll recall that a former special counsel, Kenneth Starr, was tasked initially with examining a real estate deal involving Bill and Hillary Clinton and discovered that the president was having an “inappropriate” relationship with a young White House intern. The rest became history.

Mueller, himself a former FBI director, is an excellent choice to lead this probe. I give Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein high praise for making this choice.

Senators, House members and the president now can get back to arguing over some other things: health care, tax reform, infrastructure, immigration matters, North Korea, Syria, NATO.

We can argue ourselves hoarse over the merits of what Donald Trump wants to do. I don’t mind that debate continuing at full throttle.

This Russia matter and all its tendrils have strangled the government. For his part, Trump has made a mess of just about everything he has touched. Congressional leadership hasn’t acquitted itself much better, either.

Yes, House and Senate committees will continue to examine the “Russia thing” along with whatever Mueller uncovers. Let them pursue their charter as prescribed by congressional rules.

The rest of the House and the Senate — along with the guy who is president of the United States — ought to concentrate more fully on what they were sent to Washington, D.C., to do.

That is to govern.

Take it away, Robert Mueller

I have just caught my breath.

Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has given the cause of truth and justice — and perhaps even the American way — a major boost. He has named former FBI director Robert Mueller as the special counsel to examine the “Russia thing” and “related matters.”

What do we make of this?

I’ll take a stab at a couple of points.

One is that Mueller served as FBI director under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. James Comey replaced him as FBI boss. Mueller and Comey reportedly are professionally close and have worked together well over many years.

Comey is out of his job at FBI, having been fired by Donald J. Trump because he was spending too much time on the “Russia thing.”

And, yes, we have reports of a memo that Comey wrote after the president reportedly asked him to shut down the FBI probe of former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s Russia ties.

OK. So now Mueller will probe deeply into what, if any, relationship the Trump presidential campaign had with Russian government officials and the Russians’ effort to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Mueller will be free of any direct link with the Trump administration and with Congress. He will be “independent” and will be charged with seeking the truth behind the myriad allegations that have bedeviled the president and his team.

Rosenstein faced great pressure to appoint the special counsel. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from all matters relating to Russia; the Trump administration opposed the appointment of a special counsel. It fell to Rosenstein to make the call.

Mueller is known as a tough-minded lawyer.

Hey, this story is accelerating way past the posted speed limit. I’ve got to take my foot off the gas pedal for a moment or two.

I’ll just applaud the deputy AG for making this call. I also plan to breathe deeply and get ready for the next round of blockbuster news.

Independent probe needed in Rice case

The case of Ray Rice is getting serious.

The former Baltimore Ravens running back who hit his fiancée — who’s now his wife — is out of a job after knocking his wife unconscious in a New Jersey casino elevator.


But it’s getting complicated now.

National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell said he didn’t see the video of Rice smashing his wife in the face until just the other day. The Associated Press reports that the league office got the video in April, two months after the incident.

The question: Did the commissioner cover up what he knew and when he knew it?

That’s where former FBI director Robert Mueller comes in. He’s going to conduct (presumably) a thorough, independent investigation of what happened. He’ll report back to the NFL and to the public.

At issue is whether the NFL sought to whitewash this case to protect its image. If it turns out Goodell knew far earlier than what he’s acknowledged, he ought to be fired summarily.

The bigger issue, of course, is how the organization is going to handle domestic violence cases involving its employees in the future. Rice initially got a two-game “suspension.” Then the video showing him punching his wife came out. The league suspended Rice indefinitely and the Ravens fired him from the team.

Robert Mueller needs to get to the bottom of this case and he needs to follow every lead he gets to get to the truth — and to who knew what and when they knew it.