The appointment of former FBI director Robert Mueller, by Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General, to take over the investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 presidential election represents short term relief for US President Donald J. Trump. President Trump however, cannot take it easy for the long term.
Not a Presidential appointment
President Trump was not consulted on the Mueller appointment. He subsequently released a characteristically short statement made up of three sentences. Trump said that a comprehensive investigation will confirm what is already known- an absence of any wrongdoing on the part of his administration, and is looking forward to the time when the matter will finally be resolved.
The appointment of Mueller at this juncture has its benefits. It has calmed the rising demands from Democrats for an independent inquiry. A number of Congressional Republicans welcomed it as well, as they were afraid political scandals were overshadowing a number of important legislative initiatives. For Trump, this investigation can last not only months, but years. It does not help that Mueller is a respected FBI career officer who is known to be diligent when investigating a case. Rosenstein said a special counsel became necessary so that Americans could have complete confidence in the results.
Trump understands that Special Counsels carry out an exhaustive list of duties, which are generally not rushed. They can also be extremely unpredictable. The president has no choice in this matter. The administration had previously dismissed any requirement for an independent inquiry. Sean Spicer, the spokesman for the White House, said there was no compulsion to hire special prosecutors for the purpose.
Mueller is relatively immune from the many vagaries of President Trump. The latter has not appointed the former to the post. Mueller's conclusions have the potential to derail the Trump administration. He will find out whether the US president tried to influence the inquiry. According to critics, this offense could turn out to be an impeachable offense.
President Trump cannot depend on the loyalty of officials when the time comes to protect himself. Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, is compelled to secure himself when it comes to any Russian inquiry due to his campaign with the Russian ambassador. He also cannot interfere with the workings of the Trump nominated FBI Director who will come as a substitute to administer the federal bureau.