Bessette/Pitney’s AMERICAN GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS: DELIBERATION, DEMOCRACY AND CITIZENSHIP reviews the idea of "deliberative democracy." Building on the book, this blog offers insights, analysis, and facts about recent events.
3. Likewise, if he leaves, it won't "end" it. Mueller was appointed mainly to insulate an ongoing investigation from conflicts of interest that arose from Comey's firing. If he leaves, some of that insulation is gone. BUT:
4. The FBI has a statutory mandate to investigate potential violations of federal law and threats to national security. Just because Mueller leaves doesn't mean that those cases just get dumped in the trash. They are obligated to continue investigation them to their resolution.
5. It's also useful to think of FBI investigations as fractals. Each case can spawn a new case, depending on what's uncovered. In other words, if during an investigation of one violation, you uncover another, that's a new case.
7. Further, some of these -- like the indictments and plea deals we've seen -- are already in the judicial system. And no doubt there are outstanding subpoenas and other investigative leads that are already out. In other words, this train has left the station, big time.
8. They key, however, is that there needs to be a prosecutor at DOJ who is willing to facilitate and approve many parts of the investigation. Right now that's Mueller. In his absence, who is it? DAG Rod Rosenstein (because AG Sessions would still be recused).
9. Under the Special Counsel regulations, Mueller has been reporting to Rosenstein every 90 days about the status of his investigation. He's also had to seek approval for an expansion of his mandate, or for any charges he's brought so far.
10. We can conclude that so far Rosenstein has approved of the progress and requests that have been made -- if he hadn't, he would have had to report this to Congress and explain why. That hasn't happened. He's also explicitly stated that he believes Mueller is doing his job.
11. Rosenstein, therefore, has basically seen everything that Mueller has. And he's on board. Presumably, if he is put "back in charge," he'd continue to move the investigation forward (if he didn't, it would raise the question why he had been approving Mueller until now).
12. If Trump fires, Rosenstein, however, he can appoint someone new to be the DAG. Which means he can preemptively choose someone who is going to stonewall the investigation from moving forward. Even a new DAG overseeing Mueller could do this.
13. So, IMO, that's the bigger threat. Rosenstein, not Mueller, is really the buffer right now between POTUS (and Congress) and a full investigation of all aspects of "the Russia investigation," incl the counterintelligence part, the various criminal threads, and OoJ. /END
14. P.S. And ppl are right that in general, Trump has to fire Rosenstein to fire Mueller. But part of my point is that he could replace DAG, *not* fire Mueller and still achieve same effect if that DAG is willing to block Mueller's efforts and "spin" the reasons why to Congress.