Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling with the 2016 election is the centerpiece of Democrats’ latest unhinged rhetoric against President Trump. They were triggered by the appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting Attorney General because of Whitaker’s past comments about the probe.
They shouldn’t worry. Mueller will be allowed to conduct his investigation with little push back from the White House. The chances of Whitaker acting on his past comments about the investigation and the possibility the Justice Department could simply cut funds to slow the investigation to a halt are very slim. It would be political suicide for the President and he knows it.
Then again, that may be the point. It’s better to pull the plug on the Mueller investigation now with an interim manager over the Justice Department than closer to the 2020 election with a confirmed Attorney General.
By all accounts so far, the investigation hasn’t yielded much that would affect the President. Many of the people around him have been hurt, but so far the President himself remains unscathed. From a purely political perspective, it would behoove the President to preemptively protect Mueller before the Democrats try to attach legislation protecting him to a government spending bill. Now that they have the House, they could do that.
All the President has to do is say, “Matt looked at the investigation and advised me it’s going along properly. We will not cut funding or fire Mr. Mueller until the investigation is complete.”
There. Done. If he were to say that, the Democrats would be declawed and we could get back to business as usual. But that doesn’t seem likely to happen, so we can expect actions from Congress once the 2019 session begins.
It will be futile. There simply isn’t much they can do. The Justice Department falls squarely in the executive branch’s purview. As Senator Ted Cruz noted, efforts by the Democrats may be unconstitutional.
“We had a bill come through the Judiciary Committee that tried to make it impossible for a special counsel to be removed. I believe that legislation was unconstitutional,” he said.
Matthew Whitaker, the acting attorney general, previously said the Mueller investigation had “gone too far” and once suggested slashing funding for the investigation. In his role as acting attorney general, he now oversees that investigation.
Democrats will flail around, playing every political and legal card they have, but it won’t change the President’s broad powers over the Justice Department. If he wanted to fire Robert Mueller, he could… and probably would have already.