Robert Mueller III appointed special counsel in Russia probe

When he was confirmed as deputy attorney general and became the acting attorney general for purposes of the Trump-Putin campaign investigation, Rod Rosenstein said he sees no need for a special prosecutor in Russia probe: “One source says Rosenstein isn’t inclined to make a change unless the FBI investigation appears to be imperiled.”

That was before Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey and threw Rod Rosenstein under the bus by initially (falsely) asserting that he was acting on the recommendations of a memo prepared by Rosenstein. Trump blames everyone but himself for his problems. The Justice Department just blamed him. The Justice Department tacity admitted that:

[Trump] had badly damaged the credibility of the FBI’s Russia investigation by announcing the probe would now be handled by a special counsel, former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III.

The bombshell revelation represents a startling admission of fault for the administration — if not the White House directly. This was a Justice Department decision about which the White House reportedly learned shortly before it was announced.

“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,” Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein said in a statement.

Rosenstein is scheduled to appear for an all-Senate briefing on Thursday. Rosenstein’s appointment of special counsel serves as olive branch on eve of Senate appearance:

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein offered a major olive branch Wednesday to his biggest critics less than 24 hours before he was set to walk into the lion’s den — an all-Senate briefing on the investigation of the Russian incursion into the 2016 presidential campaign.

Barely three weeks after a resounding 94-to-6 confirmation vote, Rosenstein’s previously stellar reputation as a prosecutor’s prosecutor had been thrown into question amid the fallout of President Trump’s abrupt firing last week of James B. Comey as FBI director.

Democrats had gone from voicing cautious optimism to some calling for his resignation after Trump’s allies cited a Rosenstein memo as the reason for Comey’s dismissal.

Democrats mocked the quality of Rosenstein’s writing and research. They noted that Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s recusal from the investigation left Rosenstein as the man holding the power to appoint a special prosecutor to handle the Russia case, and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) convened an early Wednesday afternoon huddle of Democrats to plot strategy about how to force Rosenstein’s hand.

“Rosenstein’s credibility is on a very shaky foundation with many of my colleagues. He needs to be forthright, thorough, responsive to have any hope of restoring the confidence of many of my Democratic colleagues,” Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), who enthusiastically voted to confirm Rosenstein April 25, said Wednesday.

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, Rosenstein gave into those demands and appointed Robert S. Mueller III, the FBI director for 12 years before Comey, as the special counsel to conduct the investigation into Russian meddling and any ties to the Trump presidential campaign. Mueller, who became FBI director a week before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, guided the bureau into a wartime footing focused on protecting the homeland.

Democrats were quick to applaud Rosenstein’s appointment of Mueller, who became a close ally of Comey’s while he served as deputy attorney general in 2003 and 2004. In one dramatic standoff, Mueller, Comey and other senior Justice Department officials threatened to resign en masse over a dispute related to warrantless wiretapping.

But Rosenstein will still face tough questions from Democrats and Republicans who want to understand the timeline of events over the past nine days.

“We’ll have a chance to ask him about the scope of Sessions recusal, about the Comey firing, about his memo,” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said before the Mueller announcement.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, said he wants to know if Rosenstein had seen or heard about Comey’s interactions with the president — which have come to light in notes that the FBI director filed away after each meeting — before Rosenstein wrote his analysis of Comey’s FBI tenure that was released upon his dismissal.

“Obviously people are going to want to know if he got that memo before he wrote his memo, if he got his Comey memo before he wrote his Comey memo. That’s the big question,” Flake said.

The Mueller appointment was greeted with a deep sigh of relief among Republicans. Each day, with each new revelation, more Republicans came closer to calling for a special counsel but usually with a caveat of “maybe” the time had come for such a step. They were hesitant to call for such an investigation of a president from their own party, but they were weary from being on the defensive as Trump allegations mounted.

Now, with such a respected appointee overseeing the investigation, Republicans have a ready-made defense to shield themselves from inquiries: Bob Mueller is going to get to the bottom of this.

The New York Times reports, Robert Mueller, Former F.B.I. Director, Is Named Special Counsel for Russia Investigation:

The Justice Department appointed Robert S. Mueller III, a former F.B.I. director, as special counsel on Wednesday to oversee the investigation into ties between President Trump’s campaign and Russian officials, dramatically raising the legal and political stakes in an affair that has threatened to engulf Mr. Trump’s four-month-old presidency.

* * *

By appointing Mr. Mueller, a former federal prosecutor with an unblemished reputation, Mr. Rosenstein could alleviate uncertainty about the government’s ability to investigate the questions surrounding the Trump campaign and the Russians.

Mr. Rosenstein said in a statement that he concluded that “it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authorities 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,” Mr. Rosenstein added. “I have made no such determination.”

Mr. Mueller’s appointment capped a day in which a sense of deepening crisis swept over Republicans in Washington. Republican congressional leaders, normally reluctant to publicly discuss White House political drama or the Russia investigation, joined calls for Mr. Comey to share more about his encounters with Mr. Trump.

The Republican chairmen of the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence committees and the House Oversight Committee all asked Mr. Comey to testify before their panels. They also requested that the F.B.I. turn over documentation of Mr. Comey’s interactions with his superiors in both the Obama and Trump administrations, including a memo Mr. Comey is said to have written about Mr. Trump’s request that he quash the investigation into Mr. Flynn.

While Mr. Mueller remains answerable to Mr. Rosenstein — and by extension, the president — he will have greater autonomy to run an investigation than other federal prosecutors.

As a special counsel, Mr. Mueller can choose whether to consult with or inform the Justice Department about his investigation. He is authorized to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” according to Mr. Rosenstein’s order naming him to the post, as well as other matters that “may arise directly from the investigation.” He is empowered to press criminal charges, and he can request additional resources subject to the review of an assistant attorney general.

NOTE: Erwin Chemerinsky and Eric M. Freedman explain in an op-ed that Naming Robert Mueller as special counsel isn’t enough — because Trump can get rid of him: “Without the protection of the independent counsel law, however, Trump can order Rosenstein to fire Mueller, and fire Rosenstein if he refuses. Congress should therefore renew the independent counsel statute providing for the appointment of a special prosecutor, one who cannot be fired by the president or the attorney general.”

Mr. Trump was notified only after Mr. Rosenstein signed the order, when the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, walked into the Oval Office around 5:35 p.m. to tell him. Mr. Trump reacted calmly but defiantly, according to two people familiar with the situation, saying he wanted to “fight back.”

He quickly summoned his top advisers, most of whom recommended that he adopt a conciliatory stance. But his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who had pushed Mr. Trump to fire Mr. Comey, urged the president to counterattack, according to two senior administration officials.

After a brief discussion, however, the majority prevailed. Aides huddled over a computer just outside the Oval Office to draft the statement accepting Mr. Rosenstein’s decision and asserting the president’s innocence.

By the end, Mr. Trump was uncharacteristically noncombative, according to people close to him.

* * *

It was only the second time that the Justice Department has named a special counsel. The first was in 1999, the year the law creating the position took effect. Attorney General Janet Reno appointed John Danforth, a former Republican senator from Missouri, to investigate the botched federal raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Tex., in 1993 that killed 76 people.

This initial “conciliatory stance” was gone this morning with yet another Twitter storm from our always insecure egomaniacal Twitter-troll-in-chief. Like all conservatives, Trump wallows in perceived grievances and a sense of victimhood. Trump Calls Himself the Victim of a ‘Witch Hunt’:

President Trump lashed out on Thursday, saying he was the target of an unprecedented witch hunt, a day after the Justice Department appointed a special counsel to investigate ties between his presidential campaign and Russian officials.

In a pair of early morning tweets, Mr. Trump cited, without evidence, what he called the “illegal acts” committed by the administration of his predecessor, Barack Obama, and the campaign of his former opponent, Hillary Clinton — and said they never led to the appointment of a special counsel.

“With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel appointed!” Mr. Trump wrote, misspelling counsel.

Moments later, Mr. Trump added, “This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”

The tweets, shortly before 8 a.m., were a stark contrast to his muted reaction to the announcement on Wednesday evening that Robert S. Mueller III, a former F.B.I. director, had been named to investigate ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

* * *

Mr. Trump’s sense of grievance over the Russia investigations had been deepening even before the naming of a special counsel. During a commencement address at the United States Coast Guard Academy on Wednesday, the president abruptly diverted from his uplifting theme to complain that “no politician in history” had been treated “more unfairly” than him.

Richard Nixon reportedly got drunk and wandered the halls of the White House talking to the paintings of former presidents hanging on the wall during the Watergate scandal. Donald Trump resorts to his phone and displays his mental disorders on Twitter for all the world to see.

17 Responses to Robert Mueller III appointed special counsel in Russia probe

  1. Trollin’ Rep McSally on FB so y’all don’t have to.

    Rep. Martha McSally
    22 hrs ·
    “The Justice Department’s naming of former FBI Director Robert Mueller today as special counsel to oversee the ongoing investigation into Russia’s meddling in our election is the right decision at this time. Director Mueller is someone who is free of politics, most recently demonstrated in 2011 when the Senate voted 100-0 to extend his term as FBI Director for two years. He has a long and distinguished career in law enforcement and a tremendously in-depth understanding of the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I look forward to an expeditious conclusion to this investigation in order to provide answers to the questions the American people are asking and I think former Director Mueller is a great choice to do just that.”

    • Hmmmm. Well, mostly just a sanitized statement intended as ever-so-reasonable to placate the moderate CD2 voters. Probably won’t play well with the Trump voters.

      Apparently, this is about answering the questions the American people are asking and moving on.

      Right, Martha. That’s all this is.

      • “Apparently, this is about answering the questions the American people are asking and moving on.”

        What happens, Liza, when the questions are answered and there is nothing “there”? Do you think liberals will accept that and move on? Or do you think that will set off a firestorm of claims there is a massive cover-up going on? I think we both know that liberals will never be satisfied with this Trump/Russia brouhaha unless Trump is indicted and convicted of something. Anything less is a coverup.

        That is the real problem…it doesn’t matter to liberals if there is any truth to the Russian accusations. All that matters is that it is a major way to attack Trump. Hillary’s loss to Trump caused a significant mental trauma to liberals that has only gotten worse as time has gone on and Trump has not been damaged by any of the efforts of the left to do so. This, and things like this, will go on as long as Trump is President. It doesn’t matter if it ultimately hurts the Nation; TRUMP MUST BE PUNISHED!! Anything less is unacceptable. Right?

        • Good morning, Steve. You’re up early today.

          My first reaction to this and other similar comments you’ve made is that you seem unable to perceive this as anything other than the revenge of the liberals. And perhaps that is understandable given what happened during the Clinton Administration in the 90s. So many “scandals” that went nowhere until the GOP became fixated on Bill Clinton’s d!#k and managed to impeach him but failed to convict him in the Senate. When viewed through the lens of decades of bitter, GOP partisan politics, I suppose it is understandable that one who agrees with this would project similar motives on everyone else.

          And that is all you are doing, Steve. You are just simply saying that everyone thinks and behaves the same way. But that is not what I think is going on here.

          I’ll return later to elaborate.

          • For Sure Not Tom

            Conservatives do spend an odd amount of time thinking about other people’s naughty bits. They won’t shut up about Slick Willy’s willy 20 years later.

            Calling each other “cuckservatives”, because someone is not conservative enough, that’s pretty telling.

            Pence being scared to be alone around a woman. Calling his wife “mother”, and people being okay with that?

            Then there’s Trump’s golden shower fetish.

            Kinky bunch. Odd, you’d think they’d be more fun.

          • “Conservatives do spend an odd amount of time thinking about other people’s naughty bits. They won’t shut up about Slick Willy’s willy 20 years later.”

            Odd thing, Tom…I didn’t mention anyone’s naughty bits or Clinton. I merely asked Liza the same question I asked you: What happens when the Russia inquiry finds nothing happened? Hardly a titilating question, is it?

          • Even at the time I thought the Lewinsky “scandal” was disgraceful on the part of the Republicans. It seemed that their lack of respect for the presidency itself would impact all future presidents and it has indeed. When you think they can go no lower, we elect our first black president and they take disrespect to whole other level. And the most disrespectful of all, the Birther King, claims to be the most mistreated “president” in history.

        • Actually, Steve, it is pointless to regurgitate what we know about Trump, why he is being investigated, and why it is important to find out the truth about him. You obviously support the witch hunt theory, so I will not spend time trying to convince you that the truth actually matters to some of us.

          Frankly, I think the country is without good options right now. The presidency has been denigrated to a level that a carnival barker, a world class con artist and buffoon has gotten into the Oval Office through the back door. And after months of MSM attempting to normalize this situation, it turns out that the executive branch of the federal government cannot be run like a TV reality show. And apparently, Trump’s extensive “business” experience hasn’t helped him much either. In fact, quite the contrary. James Comey certainly wasn’t impressed.

          For everyone except Trump supporters, it is a bad situation from every angle. But it may turn out that Trump’s removal from the presidency is imperative and supersedes all of our other problems. I guess we have to wait for Mueller’s investigation or something else to happen.

          • “Actually, Steve, it is pointless to regurgitate what we know about Trump, why he is being investigated, and why it is important to find out the truth about him.”

            I disagree with you on this, Liza. I think it is important, at this point, to investigate the Russian issue because it has to be ended, one way or the other. Either Trump is guilty of conspiring with the Russians or he is not. We need to know which it is.

            “You obviously support the witch hunt theory…”

            No, I don’t. But I very tired of the left talking about the Russian issue as if is a fate accompli and he is guilty simply because the left says he is. I don’t think he guilty, but if the evidence proves me wrong, I will accept that. My concern is that if the evidence proves the left is wrong, they will still continue to accuse him of conspiring with the Russians. I don’t think the left is capable of letting the issue go because of their hatred for Trump, and the evidence is meaningless.

            “The presidency has been denigrated to a level that a carnival barker, a world class con artist and buffoon has gotten into the Oval Office through the back door.”

            Being elected in accordance with the Constitution hardly qualifies as a “back door”, Liza. You don’t like the results, but it was a legal and legitimate election.

            “But it may turn out that Trump’s removal from the presidency is imperative and supersedes all of our other problems.”

            If Trump is proven guilty of conspiring with the Russians to affect the 2016 election, then impeachment and removal from office is very likely appropriate. Prosecution may also be appropriate depending on what the conspiracy amounted to. If we face that, I agree that it will become our most pressing problem as a Nation.

            “I guess we have to wait for Mueller’s investigation or something else to happen.”

            I agree about waiting for Mueller’s investigation. As to the “something else”, I have to withold judgement because I have no idea what that “something” might be. ;o)

            “Frankly, I think the country is without good options right now.”

            I think so, too. But I think the Democrats bear some of the responsibilty for that. Their obstructionism – for which they are not yet being held accountable – has taken away many options on what we can do. I don’t expect that to change any time soon. The up side of that is that the government is partially paralyzed and isn’t doing anything too stupid right now.

          • “…it is pointless to regurgitate what we know about Trump, why he is being investigated, and why it is important to find out the truth about him.”

            What I clearly meant here is that it is pointless for YOU and ME (not the country) to regurgitate etc…as you are convinced Trump has done nothing wrong.

            As for fair elections, maybe not. There was a lot wrong with this election.

             Wisconsin’s Voter-ID Law Suppressed 200,000 Votes in 2016 (Trump Won by 22,748)

            A new study shows how voter-ID laws decreased turnout among African-American and Democratic voters.
            By Ari BermanTwitterMAY 9, 2017

            https://www.thenation.com/article/wisconsins-voter-id-law-suppressed-200000-votes-trump-won-by-23000/

  2. Pence doesn’t think he’s goin’ down:
    MAY 18 2017, 2:23 PM ET
    Pence Creates PAC Ahead of 2018, 2020 Elections
    by VAUGHN HILLYARD

    Vice President Mike Pence is launching his own PAC — the “Great America Committee” — to aid his own future political interests, including helping Republican candidates ahead of the 2018 midterms.

    The group, which filed paperwork with the FEC on Wednesday, will be able to use the funds to cover the costs of the vice president’s travels on Air Force Two to campaign on behalf of GOP candidates across the country.

    This is the first time a sitting vice president has formed such a separate political arm. Former administration officials have used either party or campaign funds to cover travel costs.

    http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/pence-creates-pac-ahead-2018-2020-elections-n761436

  3. mueller will have to prove illegality with russia by trump and even less chance by pence. ts you want it to be true so you don’t need evidence mueller will need evidence of criminal activity with russia. but if investigates other then russia collusion he might turn up something like ken starr did with bubba.

  4. Remember, Pence is just as deep into this as Trump. And Ryan and McConnell KNEW and enabled/provided cover.

    • ts what is your evidence that pence committed a crime with russia? you don’t have evidence that trump committed election crime with russia. “DEEP”! is not evidence. you need a lot more then the word deep or where there is smoke their is fire or what is he trying to hide. the media uses all these innuendo phrases that proves nothing. as joe friday says just the facts!

    • “Remember, Pence is just as deep into this as Trump.”

      “Deep into” what, TS? Thank God our system of justice does not operate on what people “know” but, rather, on what can be proved. BIG difference…

    • For Sure Not Tom

      Yep. Pence knew all about Flynn and he’s lying.

      Sadly for Flynn, there’s documentation, even a letter from Elijah Cummings in November stating Flynn was working for foreign governments.

      Flynn’s always been dirty, going back to his first political campaign where he got busted using campaign money to pay his bills and mortgage.

      Snake with a Bible.

      • For Sure Not Tom

        That should be sadly for Pence. The letter from Cumming’s was to Pence.

        Never post on one cup of coffee.

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