Is Trump’s Russia collusion charge a political ploy?
Analysts say that the president’s decision to name former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel for Russia is intended to undermine his efforts to find a way to investigate the Russia collusion matter.
Trump’s announcement, on Thursday, was made without the involvement of any of the congressional committees that oversee investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The Senate intelligence committee is already investigating the matter.
It’s unclear how Trump will respond to Mueller’s nomination, but analysts say it’s not an unreasonable decision given the special counsel’s reputation for integrity and credibility.
Trump has been in the spotlight for his Russia ties since a dossier compiled by a former British spy was published by Buzzfeed.
The dossier, which cited the president as a source, was highly damaging to his candidacy and helped make him the first president in more than a quarter-century to be charged with obstruction of justice.
A month before Trump’s inauguration, the House Intelligence Committee approved a bill that would expand Mueller’s scope to investigate “all aspects of Russian involvement in the U.S. political process” and the potential for collusion with the Trump campaign.
But that effort has not yet moved forward.
Some Democrats have called for Mueller’s removal from the Russia investigation and called on the president to publicly confirm that the special investigation is still going.
The president did not address the issue at Thursday’s White House briefing.
The White House declined to comment on whether Trump will appoint a special counsel to oversee the Russia probe, saying only that the matter is currently under investigation by the Justice Department and that “the president has the full confidence of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”
The special counsel has also faced scrutiny in Congress over a memo he wrote in December detailing his assessment of whether Trump was “honest and trustworthy” in the Russia inquiry.
It was not immediately clear if Trump would use the memo to undermine the Russia investigations.
Mueller is known for his close relationship with the president, who has publicly praised him for his work.
In January, Trump praised Mueller for “a lot of work he’s done” and “he’s done a really good job” in his investigation.