Special counsel Robert Mueller has been on the job just six weeks and already his portfolio includes scrutinizing the financial connections between team Trump and Russia, examining the full breadth of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election (from bots to voting systems), exploring possible collusion between Trump associates and Russian operatives, and assessing Trump’s interference with the FBI investigation. In short, it’s an awesome task and while he has no formal deadlines for delivering reports or conclusions, some 470 lawmakers up for re-election in 2018 will be hanging on his every word, should he have any. Politico writes:
While it’s unclear how long it will take Mueller to wrap up his investigation, veterans of past White House scandals say that with the midterms already being framed as a referendum on Trump’s presidency, both Republicans and Democrats can be expected to push Mueller to go public with whatever he has before voters go to the polls.
But Mueller will also be shadowed by the criticism heaped on former FBI Director James Comey over his public statements about the Hillary Clinton email probe in the days before the 2016 presidential election.
“It’s going to be déjà vu all over again with respect to everyone being angry whatever he has to say,” said Douglas Kmiec, a former top Justice Department lawyer during the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations and U.S. ambassador to Malta under President Barack Obama.
Special counsel investigations of the executive branch usually span both many years and election cycles. In the 1,850-plus days it took to dig into Bill Clinton’s involvement with Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky, the investigation’s cloud hung over his 1996 re-election along with two midterm cycles in ’94 and ’98.
That said, veterans of such investigations agree that Mueller will be balancing the necessities of both a thorough and sound investigation and the public’s need to know. And according to one Obama-era Justice Department official, he is famously impatient.
“If he has one flaw or virtue it’s impatience. He moves people very hard and moves them very quickly,” the former DOJ official said. “The team will be sleep-deprived and sweating bullets as he drives them to wrap it up.”