This is a huge, long- awaited development for those of us interested in getting an impartial (i.e., non- Congressional) investigation into the Trump- Russia nexus going:
The Department of Justice announced on Wednesday evening former FBI director Robert Mueller will serve as a special counsel to oversee the FBI’s investigation of the Russian government’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election.
The investigation will also examine “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” according to the order creating the position.
It’s an official concession from the Justice Department that the Russian intervention in the 2016 presidential election was an extraordinary circumstance, and that bringing in an outsider to oversee the investigation is in the public interest. Rod Rosenstein, the second-in-command at the Justice Department, made the decision. That’s because he oversees the Russia investigation, due to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusing himself from it.
It’s not currently clear if the White House received notice the announcement was coming.
Mueller will have the power to bring in staff from outside the Justice Department to help with the investigation, and will have all the authority of a U.S. Attorney. He will also be able to request a budget for the investigation, which Rosenstein will ultimately approve.
“In my capacity as acting Attorney General, I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a special counsel to assume responsibility for this matter,” he said in a statement. “My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted.”
“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.”This is expected to focus and greatly accelerate the investigatory process, given the fact that Mueller is a well- regarded, professional with standing in the FBI and intelligence community. We have no doubt they're doing cartwheels over at the FBI building right now.
Rosenstein did the right thing, clearly under pressure because of the revelations of the past few days of unfit Donald "Rump" Trump's bizarre leaking of highly sensitive intel to Russian officials, and most importantly, the leak of former Director James Comey's memo indicating Rump's interest in Comey dropping the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn's Russian connections.
Something worth watching is how this impacts and interfaces with the on- going "inquiries" by various Congressional committees, which have been hamstrung by Republican efforts to slow-walk progress or provide distractions to the main focus.
But, at the risk of being overly optimistic, we're still going to be sleeping a little better tonight.