Russia Investigation: Special Counsel Appointed

On May 17, 2017, United States Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to “oversee the previously-confirmed FBI investigation of Russian government efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, and related matters.” If the investigation is fair and thorough and finds no wrongdoing on the part of President Donald J. Trump and his administration, it could breathe new life into his beleaguered presidency. On the other hand, if Mueller’s scrutiny uncovers evidence of collusion, it may lead to impeachment proceedings against Trump. However, with Republicans currently holding a 45-seat majority in the House, impeachment is anything but certain.

Even before election night, when Trump’s victory over Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton was in opposition to the predictions of nearly every poll and pundit, there were accusations of Russian hacking. The blame wasn’t reserved for the alleged interlopers but also extended to the new president-elect. Pointing fingers at Trump had basis. After all, he was the surprise winner and, only a few months before the election, he called on Russian intelligence to steal and publish Clinton’s email messages. In July 2017, he said, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Prior to dismissing him from his job, President Trump sent a memo to FBI Director, James Comey, instructing him to stop investigating former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia. This move by the president could be used to build a criminal case against him for obstruction of justice. Nevertheless, it is unlikely such a case would be filed, as the question of whether a sitting president can be prosecuted for a criminal offense has never been settled. (The lawyer for Spiro T. Agnew, Nixon’s vice president, states prosecutorial precedent answers this question with a no.)

While the presidency appears to be in crisis, Trump maintains the Mueller investigation will only serve to prove what he has claimed all along, that the accusations of his colluding with Russia are nothing more than “fake news.”