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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sun May 21, 2017, 12:20 PM

2. 'Though our regulations were written nearly 20 years ago, they eerily anticipate the Russia investig

investigation. Their very first lines refer to cases in which the attorney general is recused, as Jeff Sessions is now. They require the special counsel to be “a lawyer with a reputation for integrity and impartial decisionmaking,” which Mueller certainly is. They provide for the counsel to “not be subject to the day-to-day supervision of any official of the Department.” And they say that the acting attorney general (for the purposes of the Russia investigation, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein) can stop the special counsel “for any investigative or prosecutorial step” that is “so inappropriate or unwarranted under established Departmental practices that it should not be pursued.” If, however, Rosenstein invokes that authority, the regulations require him to notify the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. (In yet another foreshadowing of the present day, we assumed that the majority in Congress, if of the same party as the president, might be spineless and fail to investigate any interference by the Justice Department or the White House, and so we required the report to be given to the ranking minority member of each committee as well.)

This was the best we could do, given the United States’ constitutional structure. But there are still at least three ways in which Trump, Congress or high-ranking Justice Department officials could interfere with Mueller’s investigation.

First, most simply, Trump could order Mueller fired. Our Constitution gives the president the full prosecution power in Article II; accordingly, any federal prosecutor works ultimately for the president. That constitutional reality is not something we could write around with a regulation. Instead, we opted to try to focus accountability for any such activity. The regulations provide that Mueller can “be disciplined or removed from office only by the personal action of the Attorney General” . . .

Second, Congress could muck up Mueller’s investigation. Several congressional committees are looking into Russia, and any one of them could decide to give immunity to a particular witness. . . There is a possible silver lining in this scenario, though: If Flynn was given immunity, he would have to testify, including against higher-ups, as he would no longer have any rights to refuse to testify to protect himself against self-incrimination. So even if Mueller can’t get Flynn, he might be able to convict someone else, including, potentially, a bigger fish.

Third, the regulations permit Rosenstein to define the scope and powers of the investigation. At the outset, the sweep looks fairly broad, encompassing “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump” and “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.” But that is not as broad as the authorities that were given in another recent independent investigation: In 2003, when Patrick Fitzgerald was appointed to investigate leaks that identified former CIA officer Valerie Plame, his appointment letters made clear that he was granted “all the authority of the Attorney General,” which was “plenary.” . .

hese vulnerabilities mean that Mueller’s probe is not entirely free of the political process — it is not sacrosanct. But it is still the best mechanism we have to find out what the public is clamoring to know.'

Complex, but useful to know. Thanks for posting, DonViejo.

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DonViejo May 2017 OP
avebury May 2017 #1
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elleng May 2017 #2
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