The special prosecutor: Democrats, be careful what you wish for

Yesterday, Deputy A.G. Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller as the special counsel, with full federal attorney powers, in the investigation of Russian interference in the electoral process of 2016.  At this point, Mueller has been given unlimited time and the ability to follow any related pathways regarding the scope and breadth of the Russian investigation.  But, as anyone familiar with recent history may remember, any special prosecutor may venture down paths not originally contemplated, as Bill Clinton could attest.

For Donald Trump, this deck of cards provides many possible outcomes.  Trump, not a seasoned politician, has created many unforced errors during his four months in office.  All his accomplishments have received scant coverage by the media (not willing to give him credit) as his tweets, hyperbole, and misstatements have overshadowed his agenda.  His private conversation with James Comey, which led to a purported memo partially leaked to the New York Times, was the kind of error that increased the pressure upon Rosenstein to appoint Mueller.

Many Democrats have urged the appointment of a special prosecutor.  For those convinced that Trump's election was illegitimate, the only outcome is for Mueller is to find criminality during the private Comey meeting in February, such as obstruction of justice.  They seek a bill of particulars coming before Congress to allow impeachment proceedings.  Some will still want an independent commission to investigate these issues as a way of keeping the negative news out front.

Leftists are convinced that Michael Flynn committed some serious violation when meeting with Russian officials.  They further believe that Trump interfered in the FBI investigation into this activity.  With yesterday's new report, they feel that Trump had reason to protect Flynn, since he told the transition team that he was being investigated for activity as a foreign agent prior to his appointment as national security adviser.  They complain that Trump took 18 days to fire Flynn despite warnings from acting A.G. Yates that Flynn was compromised. 

With the report that Trump gave intelligence information to the Russian officials while the latter were visiting the Oval Office, Trump opponents further feel he is unfit for the office.  With this activity and the above issues, it is not clear what laws were broken.

Mueller will likely conduct a thorough but quiet investigation.  This may help Trump get his agenda back on track.  But it now means legal risk for the entire White House staff and transition personnel.  Washington criminal lawyers will likely get new clients.  Trump may well decide to seek personal counsel as the White House lawyer represents the office.  He should certainly refrain from public and private discussion about these issues.  This will help him focus on his agenda.

Republican opponents of the president now see a way to deflect him from his agenda that includes draining the D.C. swamp.  The controversy now threatens to swallow Trump and his advisers.  The establishment is loath to see any systemic changes.  Senators such as McCain can't refrain from nicking Trump as payback for past insults.

Democrats may find that the special investigator examines the intelligence leaks as a criminal activity.  The unmasking of American citizens and subsequent leaking of that information may be a lane Mueller travels.  If he does, then the left will rue the day they sought a special prosecutor.  The Deep State's opposition may have to contend with a more rapid replacement of Obama appointees by those from Trump as a result.

The Trump administration is new and learning the ways of Washington.  Administration operatives have yet to learn how to control the narrative.  The disruptive forces behind Trump depend upon his skills to enact the changes they seek.  Trump ultimately makes most decisions.

On Friday, Trump leaves for his first foreign trip to the Middle East and Europe.  While he is away, his political enemies will be laying more bombs in his path.  This appointment may be one more diversion to limit his concentration.