Will Mueller be reined in?
There is a lot of evidence that Special Counsel Robert Meuller's investigation is a fishing expedition, a witch hunt that will at a minimum end up prosecuting a process crime, such as the highly questionable perjury conviction of Scooter Libby. He has staffed up with Democrats and people expert at turning witnesses with threats of prosecution in order to get incriminating testimony on higher-ups. Prosecutions are what special counsels do.
But there is at least a one sign that this worst-case scenario may not eventuate.
Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Deputy A.G. Rod Rosenstein, the man who appointed Mueller, appeared to rule that out. Daniel Chaitin reports in the Examiner:
If special counsel Robert Mueller finds any crime outside the scope of the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, then he'll have to seek permission, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Sunday.
"Bob Mueller understands and I understand the specific scope of the investigation, and so no, it's not a fishing expedition," he told host Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday."
Rosenstein pointed out that reports are based on leaks, and they may not be trustworthy:
It has been reported that Mueller's investigation has expanded to look at the finances of Trump and his associates, giving rise to concerns that Mueller could make it the focus of the probe. Rosenstein seemed to dismiss this issue.
Asked if there were no red lines under the terms of his order, Rosenstein said that the investigation is subject to the rules and regulations of the Justice Department.
If there's evidence of a crime that's found within the scope of what they have agreed, then Mueller has free rein, Rosenstein explained. If it's outside the scope of the probe, then "he needs to come to the acting attorney general, at this time me, for permission to expand his investigation," he added. Rosenstein noted this as a precedent, which was also followed by independent counsel Ken Starr during the Clinton years.
That seems strong. But what would happen if a grand jury (perhaps it will be called a "rogue grand jury" to protect Mueller) returns an indictment that falls outside the scope Rosenstein describes? At this stage of our political drama, we feel as though we're in a hall of mirrors, where the surface interpretation of statements and events has to be questioned, as if it may well be hiding a devious stratagem. It is not just the leaks, bureaucratic resistance, and sabotage coming from the left, either. President Trump, the master of the reality show, frequently sets up
viewers citizens for dramatic storylines and says and tweets things for effect.
Don Surber, who has a track record of understanding Trump early and explaining him lucidly, has a very interesting blog post that draws on his own ideas and those of Thomas Wictor. He contends that "Trump is winning the leaks war," because he has been playing a strategy designed to flush out the leakers by planting slightly different versions of stories and seeing which ones get leaked.
Trump is going to war with the press over leaks with victory in hand. ...
Oh he is not winning on every front. The Senate is holding his political appointments hostage. Notice, he does not talk about that much. It's called discipline. He knows they have him over a barrel called the Constitution.
The press is undisciplined. Time after time it grabs anything and everything to get Trump.
He cites Wictor:
Each group or individual who leaked was given a different version of events. This is CLASSIC spycraft. If nine individuals are told nine different stories, and then each of those stories is published, you know the identity of each person who talked to the press.
Trump now knows who the leakers are. He doesn't stop them. He controls them. If Nixon could have fed Fake News to Mark Felt – the Deep Throat in Watergate – Nixon would have completed two terms, and maybe elected Jerry Ford president.
I don't think Sessions is in the loop on these leaks. It is an Oval Office thing.
Trump has no trouble with leaks. He leaked his 1995 income tax return to the New York Times last fall. He leaked two pages of his 2005 return to Rachel Maddow. He leaks like a sieve.
Again, Trump does not want to stop the leaks. Trump wants to control the leaks.
He knows the power of the leak better than anyone. George Steinbrenner schooled him in journalism when they wrestled for the sports fronts in the New York City dailies in the 1980s.
One thing I have noticed is President Trump will underline a Fake News leak by raising holy heck about it on Twitter. The press then leaps on the leak as if it were gospel. I don't know if he does that to trap them, but that seems to be the result because time will prove Trump right.
Then there is this from CNN. From CNN!
Mueller's investigation of Trump is going too far
Last month, when President Donald Trump was asked by The New York Times if special counsel Robert Mueller would be crossing a line if he started investigating the finances of Trump and his family, the President said, "I think that's a violation. Look, this is about Russia."
The President is absolutely correct. Mueller has come up to a red line in the Russia 2016 election-meddling investigation that he is dangerously close to crossing.
We have to continue to fear the worst, but there are subterranean forces at work, I suspect.