Speed Reads

Election 2018

The investigation into ties between Trump and Russia could take years. What does that mean for the midterm elections?

President Trump might have just jumped from the frying pan to the fire. Following the ousting of FBI Director James Comey and the revelation that Comey kept notes detailing Trump's attempt to talk him out of investigating former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's ties to Russia, the Justice Department on Wednesday night appointed a special prosecutor to oversee the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling. The head? Robert Mueller, who led the FBI for 12 years during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.

But Mueller's job is not to make the investigation speed up — in fact, Politico Magazine writes the probe could take literally years, meaning it won't be done by the time the 2018 or possibly even the 2020 elections come around:

Under terms of his appointment by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Mueller will have wide powers to investigate "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump" and — beyond that — "any matters" that arise from the investigation, including perjury and obstruction of justice.

The wide scope suggests an inquiry that is almost certain to last for years, given the history of these sorts of investigations, and will have an unpredictable impact on near year's congressional midterm elections and the early jockeying in the 2020 presidential campaign. There are likely to be strains between Mueller's inquiry and those being conducted on Capitol Hill, especially if congressional investigators want to give immunity to targets of Mueller's investigation in exchange for their testimony, which would complicate the former FBI director's hopes of ever obtaining criminal convictions. [Politico Magazine]

On Thursday, President Trump protested what he perceived to be unfair treatment, calling the Department of Justice's appointment of a special counsel evidence of the "single greatest witch hunt."