Mary McCord, the current Acting Assistant Attorney General at the Department of Justice, who has been leading the DOJ’s investigation into Donald Trump’s Russia scandal, announced today that she’ll be leaving the job. This has led to all kinds of concern and consternation about what might be going on behind the scenes at the DOJ, and how this might negatively impact the investigation. So why is she leaving?
If you’re looking for a definitive answer, I’ll save you some time up front: I don’t have one. Neither does anyone else on the outside. But here’s what stands out to me. When Donald Trump forcibly ousted the likes of Sally Yates and Preet Bharara, there were fireworks aplenty. Yates had just put out a public statement refusing to go along with Trump’s unconstitutional Muslim ban. Bharara had just announced that he was refusing to resign and Trump would have to fire him. And the minute Trump decided he wanted them each gone, they were gone.
In contrast, here’s what stands out about Mary McCord’s departure: nothing. There have been no fireworks, no public back and forth, nothing controversial leaking out, no forewarning. Moreover, McCord says she’ll be remaining on the job through next month (source: NPR). And that might be the key to the whole thing. If Trump were forcing her out for strategic reasons, she’d be gone today, not quietly pre-announcing her own future departure.
So what’s this really about? It’s possible that Mary McCord never wanted to remain on the job during the Trump administration but stayed on out of a sense of duty, and is now finally ready to hang it up. But why dutifully lead the Trump-Russia investigation for three or four months, only to hang it up before reaching completion? That tells me that maybe she knows something we don’t.
The DOJ under Trump’s close ally Jeff Sessions was never going to be able to properly prosecute Trump-Russia even after Sessions recused himself. Perhaps McCord knows a special prosecutor is on the way. Or maybe it is something darker. But for now at least, the total lack of fireworks or urgency involved in her pending departure tells me this probably isn’t the kind of problem that some fear it is. We’ll see. Contribute to Palmer Report
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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report