by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Charles Cooke of National Review Online highlights one lesson from special counsel Robert Mueller’s recently concluded investigation of President Trump. That lesson should apply to the next presidential scandal.
Whenever the next one comes, Americans must demand sweeping changes to the way in which it is handled. More specifically, they must demand that Congress, and not the executive branch itself, be put in charge of the investigations. There is no unaccountable fourth branch of government in the United States. Our repeated attempts to create one — including over the last couple of years — have been disastrous.
The best thing that one can say about the structure of the now-closed Mueller investigation is that it was marginally preferable to the independent-counsel system that obtained during Bill Clinton’s investigation and impeachment. But that is not to say much at all. The problem with the Independent Counsel Act was that, in the words of Justice Antonin Scalia, it aimed “to take away the power to prosecute from the president and give it to somebody who’s not under his control.” The problem with the Mueller investigation was that it aimed to take away the power to prosecute from the president and give it to somebody who was under his control. Or, put another way, that it required the head of the executive branch of government to use that branch to investigate himself. That this yielded an array of absurd outcomes — as well as an unhealthy dose of daily panic — should surprise nobody.
It is a slight on neither the integrity nor the professionalism of Robert Mueller to observe that he and his team were put in an impossible — nay, ridiculous — position from the start.