Mueller's Investigation Is in Big Trouble, Folks

Earlier today, USA Today investigative reporter Brad Heath tweeted: "Mueller's office told the D.C. Cir. that if the acting attorney general instructs them not to take particular investigative steps, that's that. 'It is not the case that the special counsel is off wandering in a free floating environment.'"

Now, as far as I can tell, this statement is nothing more than Bob Mueller saying he doesn't view the scope of the special counsel as unconstrained; that he answers to someone.

(Usually that someone is the Attorney General, when the Attorney General isn't compromised and then obliged to recuse himself and then fired and then replaced by a nightmare who hates the special counsel's investigation.)

The statement came as part of an answer to questions from the bench this morning during a scheduled D.C. Cir. argument "that the purpose of Mueller's appointment was to make the investigation of Russian interference sufficiently independent 'that the American people could have confidence in it.'"

So, on the one hand, it's entirely innocuous. On the other, given the context and timing, it sure seems to be communicating something urgent about the fate of the investigation.

Maybe that Matthew Whitaker is already asserting his power over its direction. Maybe that the investigation has already been killed. At minimum, it seems like a plea that, without intervention, the investigation is doomed.

Which I certainly and reasonably surmised, once a fervent critic was handed control.

Still, here is what seems to be a signal for help, coming from Mueller. That is troubling, even though the crisis was entirely expected.

It's evident that Whitaker is wholly prepared to disallow any of Mueller's findings from reaching Congress. If he is even allowed to finish his investigation and make a final report, it will remain in the darkness.

At this point, I believe our best hope for seeing Mueller's report may be Mike Pence, who I still believe may be cooperating with Mueller. And even if he's not, he may be willing to use Mueller to make his own move.

Pence has wanted to be president virtually his entire life, and I can't shake the feeling that he is tired of waiting. Surely he knows that if Trump goes down in an election loss in 2020, his last chance at the presidency goes down with it. That's looking far more likely after the midterms — which means Pence's best bet at this point is to make sure that Trump goes down via resignation or impeachment.

Otherwise, I fear that the only other way Mueller's report will ever see the light of day is if Mueller himself breaks the law to publicly disclose it. And I don't imagine that's very likely.

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