It has been a year since Special Counsel Robert Mueller took over the Justice Departmentâ€™s Russia investigation. Since then, by all appearances, he has performed with professionalism, integrity and remarkable efficiency.
That is not President Donald Trumpâ€™s view, of course. The president rants frequently, inappropriately and with no foundation against a supposed â€świtch hunt.â€ť His complaints only further the impression that he has something to hide. So do the attacks on Mueller from the Trump claque in the House of Representatives.
So did last weekâ€™s rather pathetic chiming in from Vice President Mike Pence, who instructed the special counsel, â€śItâ€™s time to wrap it up.â€ť
In fact, in the space of only one year, Mueller has secured guilty pleas from, or indictments against, 19 people and three firms, including very senior figures: Trumpâ€™s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
He obtained an indictment against a Russian company that helps illuminate the Russian effort to influence the 2016 election. He has done his work without leaks or drama, even as Trump and his allies continually slander him and his motivation.
Nor is there any evidence that Mueller has overstepped proper boundaries of prosecutorial behavior. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein ordered the special counsel to investigate Russiaâ€™s 2016 election interference and any matter that â€śarose or may ariseâ€ť in doing so. It is only logical that would include Manafortâ€™s pre-election ties to Russia and the presidentâ€™s possible post-election efforts to subvert the probe. Any good prosecutor would cover those bases.
Some lawmakers have been willing to stick up for Mueller; the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill on a bipartisan basis that protects him from inappropriate termination.
So far Senate and House GOP leaders have been unwilling to bring such a bill to a vote. That has left lawmakers scrambling for other options.