Midterms loom over Mueller’s Russia probe – Politico
While it’s unclear how long it will take Mueller to wrap up his investigation, veterans of past White House scandals say that with the midterms already being framed as a referendum on Trump’s presidency, both Republicans and Democrats can be expected to push Mueller to go public with whatever he has before voters go to the polls.
“It’s going to be déjà vu all over again with respect to everyone being angry whatever he has to say,” said Douglas Kmiec, a former top Justice Department lawyer during the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations and U.S. ambassador to Malta under President Barack Obama.
The special prosecutor doesn’t face a set deadline, and the regulations establishing Mueller’s office only say he must issue a final report to the Justice Department when he’s finished investigating spelling out why he believes criminal prosecutions are warranted or not – and nothing prevents him from pressing charges or speaking out before the entire report is complete.
Most other major modern scandals involving the White House have dragged on for years, colliding with election campaigns. It took more than 1,200 days between the break-in at the offices of the psychiatrist for Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, for example, and the final convictions of senior Nixon White House aides. During that time period, Nixon won a second term and he became the only president in U.S. history to resign from office.
“If he has one flaw or virtue it’s impatience. He moves people very hard and moves them very quickly,” the former DOJ official said. “The team will be sleep-deprived and sweating bullets as he drives them to wrap it up.”
Any public disclosures on the Russia probe will be prime fodder for both Democrats and Republicans heading into the midterms. “It’s going to be hanging over every single congressional candidate,” said Bradley Moss, a Washington-based national security attorney. “Do you believe the president obstructed justice? Do you believe the president should be impeached?”
Mueller so far has tried to operate out of the media spotlight as he learns the intricacies of what the FBI and Congress have already done on the Russia case, prepares his budget and hires a team of experienced investigators who have pursued such high-profile targets as Al Qaeda, Enron executives, the Mafia and Watergate. His spokesman, Peter Carr, declined comment for this story.