Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 7:42 AM

Special Prosecutor Appointed to Investigate Trump-Russia Ties. Checkmate!

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Donald Trump telegraphed his intent to politicize the Department of Justice (DOJ) when he nominated his campaign hitman, Jeff Sessions, as attorney general.

But even Republicans could not tolerate the stench of allowing Sessions to preside over DOJ matters related to alleged collusion between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia. The foreboding irony could not have been lost even on Trump.

Sure enough, bipartisan pressure forced Sessions to recuse himself, ceding all authority on such matters to his deputy – career prosecutor Rod Rosenstein.

That recusal clearly frustrated this Don’s intent to treat the DOJ like his mafia family. And FBI Director James Comey’s refusal to pledge loyalty to him only exacerbated his frustration. This explains the ham-fisted way he fired Comey last week.

But Trump is sensible enough to know that having a special prosecutor investigate him is rather like having Elliot Ness investigate Al Capone: It. Will. Not. End. Well.

No doubt this is why Trump has had all of his surrogates fighting against the appointment of one.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Monday there is ‘no need’ for a special prosecutor to investigate alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 election or ties to the Trump campaign, pushing back on mounting Democratic calls for one in the wake of James Comey’s firing.

‘There is no need for a special prosecutor. There are two congressional committees and the FBI is conducting their own review,’ Spicer said at Monday’s press briefing.

(Fox News, May 15, 2017)

Meanwhile, Trump has been projecting consciousness of guilt with his constant whining that all allegations about his ties to Russia is just “fake news.” Remarkably, his whining sunk to a new low today as he delivered the commencement address to cadets at the Coast Guard Academy. They will soon be facing the deadly challenges of interdicting narco and human traffickers. But, instead of inspiring their courage to do so, Trump spent much of the address venting self-pity about the media – highlighted by this epic woe-is-me whine:

No politician in history — and I say this with great surety — has been treated worse or more unfairly.

(New York Times, May 18, 2017)

A less narcissistic politician would’ve been all too mindful that history is punctuated with wrongfully imprisoned and assassinated politicians who were “treated worse or more unfairly” – obviously. But this whining comes from the man who spent much of Obama’s presidency feeding the media birther nonsense about this first black president being “the biggest fraud in US history.” But I digress …

As it happens, I was in the vanguard of those calling for a special prosecutor:

I can only reiterate my forlorn hope that Republican politicians will stand up to Trump (beginning with a clarion call for a special prosecutor) – just as they stood up to Nixon, and thereby precipitated his downfall.

(“Channeling Nixon, Trump Fires FBI Director,” The iPINIONS Journal, May 9, 2017)

Well, Trump’s worst nightmare has just come true, and he can thank his firing of Comey for triggering it:

The Justice Department has decided to appoint a special counsel to investigate possible coordination between Trump associates and Russian officials seeking to meddle in last year’s election, according to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein.

Robert Mueller, a former prosecutor who served as the FBI director from 2001 to 2013, has agreed to serve in the role, Rosenstein said.

‘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,’ Rosenstein said in a statement.

(Washington Post, May 17, 2017)

Incidentally, President Obama hired both Mueller and Comey as FBI directors. Therefore, he can be forgiven a little schadenfreude over Trump being hoisted by his own petard – given all this appointment portends.

Trust me, all you need to know about Mueller is that he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Comey in 2004 – in the midst of America’s most famous Constitutional crisis since Watergate. That was when the Bush White House tried to coerce an incapacitated Attorney General John Ashcroft into rubber-stamping a NSA surveillance program.

Comey, serving then as acting attorney general (as Rosenstein is now), and Mueller, serving then as FBI director, believed one key aspect of that program was unconstitutional. So they rushed to Ashcroft’s hospital room and prevented Bush’s chief of staff from getting Ashcroft to sign off, both having threatened to resign if he did.

In other words, Trump fired Comey only to end up with his avenging twin – over whom he has no authority, control, or influence.

That said, with past being prologue, it could take months, if not years, for Mueller to complete his investigation. Alas, congressional committees will continue their dog-and-pony investigations, and Trump will continue to tweet; hence no reprieve from the political grandstanding and media hysteria that have characterized their investigations and dogged his presidency, respectively.

But rest assured that, unlike Trump’s hopelessly compromised DOJ, Mueller and his team of special prosecutors will hold to account anyone who colluded with Russia. As it was with Nixon’s enablers, I fully expect many of Trump’s to end up in prison.

Of more interest, this team will finally uncover the extent to which Trump’s (financial) ties to Russia explain his antic bromance with its mercurial president, Vladimir Putin, as well as his antic loyalty to the venal Michael Flynn. Not to mention that Mueller is bound to subpoena Trump’s tax returns and depose him – posing even greater legal jeopardy for him than special prosecutor Ken Starr posed when he deposed Bill Clinton.

This is why I plan to refrain from any further commentary on this aspect of the Trump presidency until Mueller completes his investigation. Frankly, his appointment came not a moment too soon. After all, this is just day 118 of 1460 and I’ve already had enough of his presidency.

In the meantime, I shall derive some consolation from my declared expectation that disgusted and disillusioned Republicans will force Trump to either resign or be impeached long before his last 100 days. The evidence Mueller’s team gathers on Trump’s financial conflicts and misdeeds will be instrumental in this respect. Incidentally, no matter the evidence, Mueller will not indict Trump on criminal charges; although he might give Trump the Nixon kiss of death by naming him an “unindicted co-conspirator.”

For more on this fated end to his presidency, I refer you to “Retiring Republican Jason Chaffetz Could Be Trump’s Worst Nightmare,” April 22, 2017.

Related commentaries:
Channeling Nixon
First 100 days
Republican Chaffetz

* This commentary was originally published yesterday, Wednesday, at 9:02 p.m.

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