Bob Mueller’s White Hot Summer

Special Counsel Robert Mueller may well be in the final stages of wrapping up his principal investigation. Last week, I argued here in Politico that Mueller will want to avoid interfering with the November midterms, and so will try to conclude by July or August. On this one we can believe Trump’s new lawyer, former prosecutor and New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who claims Mueller’s target is September 1.

How will Mueller wrap up his investigation? What will he produce? And then – what can we expect from the other players in this saga: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, President Trump and his lawyers, and the Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress?

As a former prosecutor and Senate Judiciary and White House lawyer who has carefully studied presidential investigations since Watergate, the next steps in this constitutional dance seem clear. Mark Twain was certainly right when he said, “History does not repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” And this summer may well be the most consequential in presidential politics since 1974, the year Watergate came to a head. Here’s what could happen:

Mueller will not indict the president, but will issue a comprehensive and detailed report.

None of us outside the famously tight-lipped Special Counsel’s Office can know what Mueller will conclude. Will it rival Watergate? Not yet clear. But we do know that the modern standard for impeachment was set in 1998, when independent counsel Kenneth Starr and a Republican House concluded that one instance of lying under oath about a sexual indiscretion was enough. Starr even concluded that he had the authority to indict President Clinton on those grounds, though he did not do so. If that is the standard, Mueller’s findings involving President Trump will easily clear that very low bar.

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