The dust hasn’t settled yet on the announcement of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special investigator into Trump-Russia. Axios predicts that the White House and Jeff Sessions in particular may not be exactly thrilled with the Mueller appointment. The Axios piece is quoted herein in its entirety due to brevity:
Former FBI director Robert Mueller will serve as special counsel in the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Mueller, who led the FBI from 2001-2013 under presidents from both parties, is one of the most highly respected figures in U.S. law enforcement and is considered an ally of James Comey's. He was selected by Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general. Rosenstein had authority in the matter because Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe, and this move may not go over well in the White House.
Congressional Republicans and Trump aides had resisted the idea of appointing a special prosecutor, contending that the House and Senate investigations were sufficient. Mueller's appointment is a sign of how untenable things had become, particularly after reports that President Trump tried to convince Comey to drop the investigation into Michael Flynn.
Trump in the dark: He was not aware that a special prosecutor would be named until less than an hour before the announcement, a White House official confirmed to Politico's Josh Dawsey.
From Rosenstein's letter: "My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted... what I have determined is that based upon the unique circumstances, the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command."
Mueller's statement: "I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability."
Dem response: Nancy Pelosi said "a special prosecutor is the first step, but it cannot be the last," calling for an independent commission.
Next question: Will the Congressional investigations continue in parallel to Mueller's?
In interviews, multiple White House officials indicated they feel under siege — unsure who in the intelligence community was leaking, how much damaging information was out there, when the next proverbial shoe would drop and what Trump might say.
Staffers shuttled back and forth among West Wing offices debating what to say without divulging confidential material or getting anything wrong. A deflated and exhausted Sean Spicer, who continues to read reports that his job is in jeopardy while he works 12 hours every day in his office, huddled in his office with chief of staff Reince Priebus.
There was a pervasive sense, another official said, that “we are kind of helpless.”
“Anarchy” is a word that has been used to describe the atmosphere in the White House this afternoon and all this week. Trump is well known for screaming at the television set and that’s likely to be just the warm up act this evening.