With news on Monday that Rosenstein has resigned/has not resigned/is about to be fired, here’s a quick look at the man who would take over as Robert Mueller’s boss when the deputy attorney general is gone.
If Rosenstein actually does resign, Trump would be able to replace him under the vacancy rule. If he is fired, it will require Senate confirmation of a replacement—unless, of course, Mitch McConnell suddenly decides that the Senate really, really must close … because. But even if Trump doesn’t immediately get to finger a replacement, he’s unlikely to find anyone more sympatico with his positions when it comes to the special counsel investigation than the man who will get the position by default. Should Rosenstein leave via either route, the investigation falls immediately to Solicitor General Noel Francisco.
As Business Insider reports, Francisco is a former Bush official who since then has worked at Jones Day, which is second only to Goldman Sachs as a source of Trump appointees. But most importantly for Trump, and for everyone else, Francisco’s history both in court and in his statements shows that he’s deeply supportive of unchecked executive power and highly disdainful toward the intelligence community.
In 2016, Francisco wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal in which he attacked then FBI director James Comey, scoffed at the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server, and complained about both the “kid glove treatment” of Clinton and the “heavy handed” tactics taken toward Republicans. Since then, Francisco has made it clear that he supported Trump’s ability to fire Comey without cause, and has issued statements showing he supports Trump’s ability to fire both Rosenstein and Robert Mueller … no harm, no foul so far as Francisco is concerned.
In short, the odds that Noel Francisco will provide any support to or protection for the Mueller investigation seems extremely remote. Instead, he’s likely to insist on passing along more information to the White House and may impose limits on both the topics and timeframe for the investigation. And that’s if he doesn’t just shut the whole thing down.
As Law and Crime reported on Sunday, Francisco is “a movement conservative through and through.” He’s an absolute partisan who was a clerk for Scalia before joining the Bush team to fight against the Florida recount. That’s who will now have charge of legal decisions of the current constitutional crisis—the guy who worked to get us here by ensuring the last great constitutional crisis.
When it comes to special counsel investigations, Francisco is already on record: He doesn’t believe in them. He would scrap the special counsel law and keep any investigations in normal channels at the DOJ and US attorneys offices.
- A dedicated partisan who was on the ground to create the recount crisis in Florida in 2000.
- A big believer in executive power who has already given Trump a waiver for firing Comey, Rosenstein, Mueller, or anyone he wants without question.
- A critic of both the FBI and other intelligence agencies who is completely on board with the idea that those agencies are too soft on Democrats, too hard on Republicans.
Don’t get to caught up in whether the details of Rosenstein’s departure give Trump the ability to hand pick a successor. It’s unlikely he could do much worse.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.