Former FBI Director Robert Mueller Will Oversee Investigation
Early this morning, President Trump returned to form, lashing out on Twitter about the appointment of a special counsel:
This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2017
With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel appointed!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2017
Earlier White House response had been uncharacteristically muted. In a brief written statement attributed to the President, Trump originally stated: “a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know — there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity.” Some reports suggest the restrained initial response came because the White House may have been blindsided by the move.
That’s after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein named Mueller as special counsel to investigate possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. The move coming a week after Trump fired FBI director James Comey, and a day after sources close to Comey charged Trump with asking him to drop an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Lawfare blog pretty strongly endorses the move, and Mueller himself, and explains the parameters of Mueller’s mission. And The New Yorker’s John Cassidy nearly gushes at Mueller’s appointment, saying “…finally some good news.” We hear you.
Rosenstein’s letter naming the special counsel is here:
The reason Mueller was appointed by Rosenstein, and not Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is that Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation. That’s because after his Senate confirmation hearing, Sessions was found to have failed to disclose meetings he had with Russian Ambassador Kislyak during the Presidential campaign.
Rosenstein became a household name just last week, when he wrote a controversial letter justifying President Trump’s firing of then-FBI director Comey.
Mueller was named FBI director by George W. Bush a few days before 9/11, and continued to serve in the Obama administration. Here is a good profile of Mueller that also discusses the limitations of a special counsel.
Over in Congress, pretty much nobody had anything bad to say about Mueller, but several Republicans questioned the need for a special counsel and indicated a robust Russia investigation, which now seems certain, would be irritating. Some politicians, mostly Democrats but also a few Republicans, are pushing for a “special commission” that would report to Congress, saying while Mueller’s a great choice, the “special counsel” still ultimately reports to the White House. And Trump could fire him. One thing that’s not in dispute: tensions are running high. “What do you think this is, a joy ride?”, asked an exasperated John McCain. We hear you.
Here’s a story we saved up explaining the differences between a “special counsel,” “independent counsel,” “select committee,” and “special commission.” Mueller is a “special counsel.”
Rosenstein will appear before the entire Senate today in a closed-door briefing. Meanwhile, the Senate Intelligence Committee invited James Comey to appear at an open hearing next week (not coincidentally, the President will be on an overseas trip at that time.) No word yet on whether Comey will do it. He previously turned down an invitation to a closed-door only session.
Trump Apparently Spent The Day Feeling Sorry For Himself
“Look at the way I have been treated lately, especially by the media. No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly.”
Those enlightening words spoken by President Trump at the graduation ceremony of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. You can watch it here:
But does it surprise anyone that Trump’s willing to take zero responsibility for the mess he’s created? Or that he made a celebration for some of our nation’s most courageous individuals all about himself?
Is Wall Street Finally Viewing Trump As A Risk?
One editor writes: When I started out, I was a financial reporter. One of the first things I was taught is the #1 thing the stock market doesn’t like is uncertainty. The Trump Presidency seemed to bring a huge amount of uncertainty with it, yet investors didn’t seem to care. Almost every day stocks would soar to new highs on stated hopes of deep tax cuts and deregulation, and ignoring brewing scandal. I wasn’t the only one perplexed: Hedge fund mangers like Paul Tudor Jones and investment bank chiefs like Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein said they couldn’t make sense of it either.
The newest Trump revelations ended that, at least for one day, with the Dow sliding 370 points, its sharpest single-day decline since before the election. That sounds like a lot, but considering how far into record territory stocks have climbed, they’re still within a couple of percent of all-time highs. CNBC quotes many brokerage firm analysts who say investors shouldn’t be too worried about the one-day slide. But brokerage firms are in the business of selling stocks, so they always tell investors not to be too worried.
One Big Campaign Promise Kept
Reuters reports immigration arrests are up nearly 40% since Trump took office. ICE arrests shot above 40,000 from Inauguration day through the end of last month, up from about 30,000 the year before, under Obama. While 2/3rds of the people arrested had criminal records, the number without criminal records soared startlingly: from 4,000 to more than 10,000. (Although ICE justifies that by saying entering the country illegally is itself a criminal act.)
While an immigration crackdown was one of Trump’s central campaign pledges, he also promised to mainly go after “bad hombres”. Looks more like his dragnet is scooping up all comers.
One Big Campaign Promise Not Kept
Bloomberg says President Trump won’t immediately move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and it’s not going to be announced during his visit to Israel next week. That breaks a major campaign promise he made repeatedly to Jewish groups. A White House official saying: “we’re not looking to provoke anyone when everyone’s playing really nice.” Trump has repeatedly said he’d like to broker a Mideast peace agreement , calling it “the ultimate deal.”
Even Breitbart (our first time linking to Breitbart) plays the story straight, although holds out hope Trump will change his mind when he gets to Israel.
Just a few days before the election last year, the Trump campaign sent Ivanka Trump to Florida to make a last-minute appeal to Jewish voters there. Ivanka’s core message: “Trump will move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem 100%.” We’ve been holding this story in our back pocket since, because we believe her visit, and that promise–although not widely covered by the media–was crucial to rallying Jewish support for Trump in Florida. Trump ended up winning that state by about 100,000 votes.