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There’s Blood in the Water… is this the End for Trump?

Meet the new Special Investigator into Trump's Russia ties... A well known shark who is sure not to be partisan

The Justice Department has appointed the former Director of the FBI Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead the federal investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. This investigation includes the examination of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. 

It was the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein – author of one of the recommendation letters Trump originally cited as justification for firing Comey – who appointed Mueller. It’s safe to say that Trump was not happy.

Having branded it the “single greatest witch hunt” in political history earlier in the day, Trump went on to comment: “I believe it hurts our country terribly, because it shows we’re a divided, mixed-up, not-unified country,” Trump said at a luncheon with a group of television news anchors.

“And we have very important things to be doing right now, whether it’s trade deals, whether it’s military, whether it’s stopping nuclear – all of the things that we discussed today. And I think this shows a very divided country,” Trump said.

Of course, he went back to his greatest hits once more and blamed the sequence of events on the Democrats still not having got over losing the election:

“It also happens to be a pure excuse for the Democrats having lost an election that they should have easily won because of the Electoral College being slanted so much in their way. That’s all this is. I think it shows division, and it shows that we’re not together as a country. And I think it’s a very, very negative thing. And hopefully, this can go quickly, because we have to show unity if we’re going to do great things with respect to the rest of the world.”

Trump is the lone voice pushing back in the overwhelming sea of approval for the appointment of Mueller who is seen is distinctly non-partisan.

The appointment

“I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authorities and appoint a special counsel to assume responsibility for this matter,” Rosenstein said in a statement. “My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. I have made no such determination.”

In order to avoid partisan interests when conducting an investigation, there are three routes to consider. One is to form an independent commission, such as the one that was formed after the attacks on September 11, 2001. Another is to create a joint committee consisting of members of congress, such as after the 2012 Benghazi attack that led to the death of a US Ambassador.

But both of those routes can only generate reports about their findings. The appointment of a special counsel, however, can result in criminal charges.

What you need to know:

There have been other examples of special counsels. In 2003, then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey appointed US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to be “special counsel” to investigate whether the Bush White House revealed the identity of a covert CIA employee, Valerie Plame. Fitzgerald indicted and convicted Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff Lewis “Scooter” Libby in 2005.

Nixon’s Justice Department also appointed Archibald Cox as an independent investigator for Watergate. Nixon first fired his attorney general and deputy attorney general when they refused to obey Nixon and dismiss Cox. This incident became known as the “Saturday Night Massacre.”

Mueller is empowered to prosecute federal crimes if he believes it is “appropriate and necessary.” He will be investigating “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump” along with “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”

Can he be fired? Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein can fire the special counsel just as he hired him. Trump can also technically order Rosenstein to fire Mueller and, if Rosenstein refuses, Trump can fire Rosenstein.

Next steps

Now it is up to Mueller to propose a budget to Rosenstein within 60 days that will cover the current fiscal year. This will cover operations and request for personnel and their qualifications.

Continuous updates will be supplied by Mueller to Rosenstein, but these are not required to be disclosed to the public and will likely remain secret. Unless Mueller takes people to court, the public will have to rely on the Senate and House investigations plus any media reports for their updates.

There is no set timeline for the investigation, and it could theoretically take years. We shall see.