Could the White House's decision to place limits on what the FBI can investigate with respect to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's alleged sexual misconduct serve as a blueprint for crushing special counsel Robert Mueller's probe?
The Washington Post's James Hohmann reached out to several legal experts who expressed concern that the Trump White House could impose similar restrictions on Mueller's investigation in the case that deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein resigns or is fired.
"If Rosenstein is removed, Trump could very easily cripple the investigation," explains Neal Katyal, the former acting solicitor general. "There are all sorts of ways a Trumpist replacement for Rosenstein could stymie an investigation, ranging from dramatic (firing Mueller outright) to low-key (refusing to provide Congress with any interim reports and simply dragging the investigation out endlessly, without any updates to the public) or even more subtle (starving the budget or depriving Mueller of key personnel)."
Hohmann also cites David Rothkopf, a visiting Carnegie Endowment scholar, who wrote on Twitter over the weekend that the White House's handling of the Kavanaugh investigation should be sounding alarm bells for people worried about the Mueller probe.
"If you hate what you're hearing about the FBI Kavanaugh investigation, know this is precisely how the White House will run the Russia investigation if they get the chance," he wrote. "It is not just an outrage... it is a warning."
As Hohmann notes, White House lawyers Jay Sekulow and Rudy Giuliani have flat-out said that the Mueller probe should be given a "time out" should Rosenstein be fired, which means that concerns about restrictions on the scope of the investigation are not simply a hypothetical.