As so often tends to end up being the case, Special Counsel Robert Mueller knows something that we don’t know. This time around it has to do with Donald Trump’s newly and illegally appointed Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker. As things stand at the moment, Whitaker is (or is not) Mueller’s boss, depending on what the courts end up ruling about Whitaker’s appointment. In the meantime, Mueller’s latest court filing reveals he’s got the Whitaker thing under control.
There is a long-running court battle about whether Robert Mueller has the legal authority to order Roger Stone’s associate Andrew Miller to testify before a grand jury. This fight has been brewing for months, and predates Matt Whitaker’s appointment. Mueller just made a new court filing in the Miller case, and he flat out stated that the appointment of Whitaker “has no effect on this case.” Mueller went on to spell out that he still has all the powers that a U.S. Attorney would have.
There are only two realistic explanations for Robert Mueller’s stance here. The first is that he’s already found a way to get Matt Whitaker to fall in line. This wouldn’t be all that surprising, considering that Mueller is a hundred times smarter and savvier than Whitaker, and he’s surely explained to Whitaker that he’ll go down for felony obstruction of justice if he tries to sabotage the probe. The other possibility is that Mueller simply believes he can win any impending battle against Whitaker. This wouldn’t be surprising either, considering that Whitaker is way out of his league.
The bottom line here is that, while the Democrats need to keep fighting Donald Trump’s illegal appointment of Matthew Whitaker in court for a number of obvious reasons, Robert Mueller is clearly saying that he’s got this covered from his end. Should we be surprised? Of course not. Mueller has had a year and a half to prepare for the eventuality in which Trump tried to put one of his own flunkies in charge of the investigation near the end. He’s surely had a gameplan in place for this scenario for some time.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report