Sunday, April 14, 2019

What Was Behind The Mueller Appointment?

Allow me a bit of speculation. A sorta jeu d'esprit, if you will

Have you ever asked yourself, why did Bob Mueller ever take the job of Special Counsel--a job that has turned into a turd in the punchbowl of his life?

Obviously the cunning manipulator behind it all--a veritable pĂ­caro, as it turned out, unlikely as it may seem--was Rod Rosenstein. But how did it actually work?

To understand that, I think we have to accept the idea that Rosenstein has put out--that, while he wrote the memo justifying Comey's firing, he never really believed Trump would do it. Whoops!

At that point, when what had seemed unthinkable had actually happened and Rosenstein was taking the blame, it seems clear from most accounts that Rosenstein just about lost all his marbles. He became the focus of vituperation for all the best DC swamp dwellers and opinion shapers whose good opinion he valued. He began engaging in unhinged conduct. How bad did it get for Rosenstein? This bad: he actually engaged in loose talk with McCabe (a true crazy) about removing Trump through the 25th amendment, even volunteering to wear a wire into the Oval Office.

But then, Rosenstein got a shock that jolted him back to reality. Fueled by all that loose talk, McCabe went ahead and opened an obstruction investigation on the POTUS, apparently without consulting first with Rosenstein. The insanity of this move and its legal threadbareness jolted our boy Rod back to reality--and to the extreme precariousness of his position. Gone were fantasies of revenge against Trump. Sheer survival had become the name of the game.

Rosenstein realized he had to do something to short circuit the FBI investigation, because sooner or later, and probably sooner, Trump would learn about it and fire Rosenstein--no doubt accompanied by Trumpian rhetoric that was all too easy to imagine. This would, of course, utterly trash Rosenstein's career and render him a laughing stock in the larger legal community.

Problem. Because Rosenstein had basically conspired with McCabe against Trump, he had no leverage over McCabe. If he tried to strong arm McCabe--fire him, or even just order him to shut down the investigation--he ran the risk of McCabe retaliating. Trump would inevitably find out what he, Rod Rosenstein, had been up to. What to do?

Rosenstein's escape plan--a daring ploy--became the Special Counsel appointment. McCabe, the unsuspecting dupe, would love the idea, having toyed with the idea himself. Hw would envision himself as the Special Counsel's right hand guy, his name in headlines, a bright future in politics. But here's how it would work. If Rosenstein could talk someone with enough "gravitas" to take the Special Counsel job, Rosenstein could then cut McCabe out of any role, and McCabe wouldn't realize that this was basically a self preservation move by Rosenstein. What made this ploy plausible was McCabe himself--it wouldn't take much to persuade the Special Counsel Rosenstein had in mind that McCabe was a complete nutjob.

So Rosenstein contacted Mueller--who better suited for the job? Why would Mueller take the job? I can only theorize, but I believe Mueller's basic loyalty is not to the FBI per se, which he ran for so many years, but rather to the Deep State, i.e., the Legal/Intel Establishment. The FBI, after all, has always been under DoJ, and in the last two or three decades has become joined at the hip with DoJ through a revolving door of lawyers transferring between Main Justice and the FBI top management. Think: Mueller himself, James Comey, James Baker, Andrew Weissmann, Lisa Page, Trisha Anderson, and many more. With the integration of the FBI into the new "Intelligence Community" following the Hanssen debacle and 9/11, Mueller had gained stature in Washington through his heightened role in the Intel world as well. That was the Deep State that Rosenstein persuaded Mueller--who, despite his nominal GOP creds, had run the FBI as a true liberal--needed to be protected from a hostile takeover by the Trumpistas. (For more insight into the Legal/Intel Establishment, and DoJ's role, cf. The Corruption and Influence of Jessie K Liu…)

Would the ploy work? Would Rosenstein be able to save his job and his career? John Dowd's interviews suggest that it was a move fraught with anxiety for Rosenstein, who was in a state of pure desperation. Not to say abject terror. Recall Dowd's story of Rosenstein "hunkered down behind his desk" asking Sessions' chief of staff: Will I be fired?

But it worked--and how! With Sessions recused, Trump's relations with the GOP elite still rocky and the media mob howling for Trump's scalp, it was politically nearly impossible to remove Rosenstein. In the event, Rosenstein even become a sort of hero for the DC elite. Imagine the sigh of relief, the surreptitious pinches to be sure it was all real!

And of course, once Mueller was on board as Special Counsel, Rosenstein's first move was to talk Mueller into excluding McCabe from any part in the operation. Thus we hear of the shouting match between Rosenstein and McCabe during the first meeting with Mueller, as Rosenstein persuaded Mueller to take total control with no role for McCabe. And we all know about McCabe's later grudge leaks against Rosenstein. But by then it was too late. Rosenstein was safe until a new AG came on board, so, at least until the mid term elections. And now Barr apparently still has some uses for Rosenstein, at least for a few months.


  1. I can't poke holes in this- I think it is all basically correct.

    1. I can't swear to it, of course, but I think it's not too far off.

  2. There once was a time the condemned were required to build their own gallows. My advice to Rosenstein: Measure twice, cut once.

  3. I agree with almost everything, but I think that Mueller thought he might be able to arrange an impeachment of President Trump. Mueller hoped that he himself might be able to become a famous historical actor who brought down a corrupt US President.

    I think that Mueller knew already when he accepted the Special Counsel appointment that the collusion accusation was a hoax concocted by the US Intelligence Community.

    Still, Mueller intended to get himself and/or Rosenstein fired, which would cause the impeachment of Trump.

    As it turned out, Mueller disgraced ...

    * himself

    * the FBI

    * the office of Special Counsel

    Eventually Mueller's prosecution of Concord Management will be thrown out, and then he will also disgrace ...

    * The United States of America

    1. I'm open to those ideas, Mike. That's why I spoke of a "minimum" goal. The difficulty with an induced firing, at least from my perspective, would be Trump's ability to influence public opinion. That's why I suspect that they didn't do all they could have to insure a firing. So they seem to have stuck with innuendo rather than outright confrontation. Obviously, on this we can only speculate for the time being. Sooner or later, and probably sooner, we'll get more revelations.

      In addition to the Concord case, I'm keeping an eye on the Flynn and Stone cases. In the Flynn case Mueller was hiding Joe Pientka, who was the 2nd agent at the Flynn interview, who reportedly disputed the "Flynn lied" narrative. Now Mark Meadows says Horowitz is interviewing Pientka. Sentencing has been put off again.

  4. The essential salience of the Spygate caper is in it's aftermath. If Barr allows the coup conspirators to skate with little or no accountability, then history will repeat itself somewhere down the road and the office of the Presidency will be forever weakened. All kinds of very bad consequences can stem from a weakened presidency that is forever looking over it's shoulder. That is the legacy of the Mueller investigation and it's attempt to exacerbate the original coup. If Barr lets this slide, history will mark him as complicit in future coup attempts.

    1. True. None of this is a done deal, and it will take tremendous determination. We know Barr has the smarts and that he wants to do the right thing, but the forces arrayed against are formidable and entrenched.