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After Mueller: Time to Do Away With Special Counsels?

03-27-2019
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The end of the Mueller investigation may mark the beginning of an effort to change the special prosecutor law.

President Trump says he wants to protect the country and future presidents from going through what he has endured over the past 22 months.

"This should never happen to a president again. We can't allow that to take place," Trump insisted.

In 1978, Congress created the Office of Independent Counsel in response to the Watergate scandal. Today called special counsels, they are appointed at the discretion of the US attorney general - usually at the request of Congress. 

Often, special counsels end up indicting people for crimes unrelated to the original mandate.

In the case of Mueller, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was convicted for bank fraud and filing a false tax return. And former Trump attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to bank and tax fraud and violating campaign finance laws.

During the George W. Bush presidency, Presidential Assistant Scooter Libby was convicted of obstruction, making false statements and perjury, not for leaking the identity of former CIA agent Valerie Plame.

And President Bill Clinton was impeached for perjury and obstructing justice. The original mandate of Special Prosecutor Ken Starr was to investigate Clinton's Whitewater real estate investments.

Many Americans believe politicians use special counsels for partisan purposes - only to damage and lessen the effectiveness of a president.

President Trump has called the Russia investigation a witch hunt. A reporter asked him what he now thinks about Robert Mueller.

Reporter: "Mr. president, do you think Robert Mueller acted honorably?" Trump: "Yes, he did, Yes, he did."

And some would argue Mueller acted legally. In 1988, the US Supreme Court declared the independent counsel law constitutional. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia dissented, warning, "I fear the Court has permanently encumbered the Republic with an institution that will do it great harm."

The Mueller investigation cost to taxpayers? At least $25 million. And the cost to the American psyche? Perhaps much greater.

BELOW: Regent Law Dean Explains How AG Barr Could End Special Counsels Right Now

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