As if the plot wasn’t already hard enough to follow, there’s now been a “special counsel” appointed to look into what President Donald Trump calls “this Russia thing with Trump and Russia.” Like every other twist in this convoluted tale, this one adds to the exponentially growing number of subplots.
We put “special counsel” in quotations not to denigrate the position, but rather because it’s a neologism to us. After watching the past many decades of binge-worthy political scandals we’re well with acquainted with special prosecutors, which were the usual starring roles played in the sordid stories, so we had to dig down deep into the media to find out what that might mean. As far as we can tell both are charged with getting to the bottom of things but the main difference is that special prosecutors can’t be fired for any reason by the president and special counsels can be for any old reason, and we can’t help thinking that might foreshadow some suture plot development.
Still, the Democrats and their media allies are celebrating the appointment as a victory, the stauncher supporters of Trump among the Republican party are calling it a bitter concession, and those of us now standing on the sidelines are hoping it works out for the best. After too many plot developments to recount here, and that’s just in the past week, the Democrats and their media allies were bound to get a continued investigation. Pretty much all the Republicans, and especially the ones that aren’t entirely staunch about their support for Trump, had to concede that questions weren’t going away until they were convincing answered. Those of us who’d just like to hear those answers might yet be satisfied by a special counsel, no matter what those answers might be..
The poor sap who was given the job is so far getting praise from both sides of the political aisle, and he seems a sound choice to us. He’s Robert Mueller, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation director who left the office after an extended term with both Republican and Democratic scalps on his belt and the respect of both parties. After a scandal-free career as a prosecutor, U.S. attorney, upper-level Justice Department official, and President George W. Bush’s pick as FBI director, Mueller was invited to add an extra two years to his ten-year term at the FBI by President Barack Obama.
The Democrats were pleased by his defiance of the Bush administration over surveillance policies, when he was joined by the Department of Justice’s James Comey, who would later become FBI director and get fired by Trump over that whole that Russia thing with Trump and Russia, which is another one of those critical subplots in the latest scandal. Bush didn’t fire Mueller because of that, though, and Obama didn’t fire him of their frequent disagreements on policy matters, which were widely praised at the time by all the Republicans, so Mueller seems as good a choice as any for the thankless task he has been handed.
So far the choice is so widely popular that Trump might be tempted to take credit for it, but it appears that the pick was made by that Rod Rosenstein fellow that you might recall as one of the characters in one of the other recent subplots. He’s the newly-hired deputy Attorney General who wrote a memo that was critical of FBI director Comey’s handling of an investigation into Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s e-mails during the campaign, which did not help the Clinton effort at all, and which was used as the excuse for Comey’s firing by the White House staff before Trump himself told a nationwide television audience that he was going to fire Comey “regardless of recommendation” and had Comey’s continuing investigation of that “Russia thing with Trump and Russia” and on his mind as he made the decision.
The newly-hired and previously respected-by-both-sides-of-the-aisle but suddenly notorious deputy Attorney General found himself with the unenviable task of making the momentous choice, though, because Attorney General Jeff Sessions had felt obliged to recluse himself from that whole Russia thing with Trump and Russia because of his own entanglements in the matter several months of subplots ago. A Trump-appointed National Security Advisor has felt obliged to resign over similar concerns, a Trump campaign chairman was fired after revelations of business dealings with Russia, as was a Trump campaign foreign policy advisor, so we can’t blame this Rosenstein fellow for making the safest possible pick. For the sake of his civil servant soul, we also hope’s keeping the same meticulous memo record of his dealings as that Comey fellow has reportedly done in one of those other continuing subplots.
After watching so many of these scandals play out over our many years we’ll not venture any guess out how this one ends, and like most of them we’ll probably never live long enough to find out that final verdict history reached before it putting on a dusty bookshelf. In the meantime the stock market hit the skids on Wednesday over worries that a Republican president and Republican majorities in both chambers of commerce aren’t going to be able to deliver on the promised business-friendly economic policies, nobody’s talking about that dreadful Obamacare law or the arguably just-as-dreadful Republican alternative, our foreign allies and adversaries alike are by now surely wondering what the heck is going on, and this ongoing thing with Russia and Trump and Russia needs to be cleared up one way or another.
Godspeed, Mr. Mueller, you poor sap.
— Bud Norman