Rosenstein could not have picked a better choice. As a former FBI chief, Mueller knows precisely what to look for and how to conduct an exhaustive investigation. Rosenstein therefore will be lauded for stepping aside and deemed to have recovered his reputation, sullied by involvement in Comey’s firing.
In one sense, this is a tremendous boost for Democrats who have been imploring Rosenstein to appoint a special prosecutor. They rightly argue that the Justice Department itself is now implicated in potential wrongdoing, as is the president of the United States. However, Republicans in Congress also should breathe a sigh of relief. They will still be hounded to appoint a select committee to oversee the entire matter, if not an independent commission, but they no longer have to resist the demands for a special prosecutor.
Frankly, the White House has every reason to panic. No one will intimidate or throw Mueller off course. The seriousness of the probe could not be more clear. A pall will soon fall over the White House as every member of the staff, the vice president and the president will brace themselves for interrogation, production of potentially damaging documents and, incidentally, big legal bills.
Coming just as the president prepares to leave on a foreign trip, appointment of a special prosecutor comes as one more huge blow to his standing and ego. He now goes overseas — something the homebody Trump reportedly dreaded — as a wounded president with an uncertain future. Nothing could be more disconcerting to allies than dealing with an impulsive, ignorant president — one whose future is far from certain. Trump can whine about the unfair press, as he did at the Coast Guard commencement Wednesday, but he has no one but himself to blame for his predicament.
The 100-day mark was the end of the beginning of Trump’s term. The appointment of a special prosecutor just four months into his presidency might be seen as the beginning of the end.