Pros and Cons of the Special Counsel

 

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Special Counsel today is NOT the same thing as the Independent Counsel from Clinton/Ken Starr days. Previously, ICs had much more independent leeway in their investigation, but that position was disbanded when Congress refused to re-authorize the office.

So what can Robert Mueller accomplish as Special Counsel?

From Vox:

The order specifically gives Muller the legal authority to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump” as well as any crimes that may take place during the investigation, including things like perjury, obstruction of justice, and witness intimidation.

And if Mueller finds enough evidence, he can seek an indictment against the suspect or suspects from a federal grand jury. If the grand jury chooses to indict, the case would then potentially go to a federal criminal trial.

For those seeking truth and a non-partisan accounting of the facts, this is a big win. For those seeking political victory, things are much murkier.

This is certainly not a good thing for the Trump White House, but it might not be as devastating as political opponents might hope.

Pro: As former FBI Director, Mueller’s reputation is beyond reproach. Everyone will (or should) accept his findings as non-partisan.

Pro: Can investigate Russia links, and any other criminality found.

Pro: Investigation will continue to be adequately funded and not obstructed.

Con: Investigation will be confidential, which means no daily news stories regarding the findings as with leaky Congressional investigations (which will still take place concurrently).

Con: Even if bad/shady crap is found, it might not rise to the level of provable criminality (beyond a reasonable doubt) – and thus charges would not be filed. In that case, we’d never know the details unless that info was given to Congress to supplement their investigations.

Con: Mueller can be fired at any time, and the Attorney General can overturn any of Mueller’s findings if he so chooses.

Con: Federal investigations are detailed and time-intensive. This will not be concluded any time soon. (For comparison’s sake, Kenneth Starr started his Whitewater investigation in 1994, but the Starr Report wasn’t released until 1998.)

Bonus: Any investigation into foreign ties would likely follow the money and undertake forensic accounting of President Trump’s finances – including digging into the finances of Trump Organization.

Regardless of what you think of Trump’s Presidential policies, it’s fairly undisputed that Trump is a shady businessman. Trump Organization has been gifted many loans from banks in other countries as well as from numerous unsavory governments, oligarchs and individuals. Simple journalistic investigations have already uncovered likely money laundering schemes with Trump’s many Real Estate properties. Family Trump would not survive such an investigation unscathed.

Once the investigation takes that route: insta-resignation and Pardon time.

Source: The new special counsel investigating Trump: who he is, what he can do, what comes next – Vox