There is an old saying: “Work expands to fill the allotted time.” The Washington corollary to that is “A special counsel’s work expands to fit the allotted budget.”
Whenever a special counsel is appointed in Washington, it’s always presented as a reasonable step to insure a trustworthy, efficient investigation, untainted by politics. Then it usually becomes the opposite, as the investigation starts growing like kudzu, hiring more and more staff and chasing leads and rumors that had nothing to do with its original mission. Eventually, they waste so much time and money that they can’t admit they found no crime, so they make one up, like getting some details wrong in testifying to investigators about an nonexistent crime the person didn’t commit (that actually happened to Martha Stewart, who was never charged with insider trading but went to prison for denying she did what she was never charged with. That was James Comey’s finest hour, up until Hillary’s emails.)
I have the same trepidation every time a special counsel is appointed, whether it’s to investigate a Democrat or a Republican (each side loves it so much when a SC bedevils the other side that they forget how annoying it is when it’s their turn.) Power corrupts, and having the power to investigate anyone in Washington, with no deadline or strict budget, corrupts absolutely.
Latest case: Robert Mueller was sold to us as the straightest arrow in the quiver. Then, no sooner was he named special counsel to look into alleged Russian interference in the election than it became clear he had close ties to James Comey that required him by law to step down. But he didn’t. Instead, he’s been hiring oodles of lawyers right off the Clinton Foundation donor list and payroll. Now comes word that he wants to look into at least a decade of Donald Trump’s business dealings involving Russia, a massive and completely irrelevant expansion of the investigation, but a potential gold mine of opposition research for Democrats. These ominous dealings include the fact that the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant was held in Moscow (does Mueller suspect Putin tried to rig the swimsuit competition?)
Trump’s attorneys are reportedly trying to rein in Mueller’s investigation. That’s from the Washington Post and anonymously sourced, so take it with a whole mine of salt. Still, it will undoubtedly be treated by the media as an outrage. There will be no thought given to the idea that it’s kind of outrageous that a man hired to investigate an allegation for which nobody’s found any evidence, and who should have already resigned to comply with federal law, seems intent on expanding the investigation in every direction until the taxpayers are picking up the tab for a battalion of $400-an-hour lawyers to investigate where the Trump Plaza restaurant got its recipe for Russian dressing.