Legality Of Robert Mueller’s Appointment Upheld By Court

Robert Mueller, special counsel, in Congress in 2017
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

With reports flying that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is getting set to finally release his long-awaited report at some point in the near future, a key ruling has been issued in one of the pieces of side litigation in the Mueller saga.

According to a report from Reuters, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has ruled that Mueller’s appointment as special counsel was, in fact, lawful.

The ruling is in connection with the case of Andrew Miller, a sometime associate of former Trump campaign aide Roger Stone. Miller had refused to comply with a grand jury subpoena, for documents and to testify, issued by Mueller on 2018, on the grounds that Mueller’s appointment as special counsel was not constitutional.

A similar argument had been made in court last year by Paul Manafort, but once again, the court sided with the special counsel, in agreeing with an earlier ruling by a lower court. The court, in Miller’s case, also upheld the subpoenas and contempt order.

“A special counsel is to be afforded wide discretion in the conduct of the investigation,” the ruling stated.

The issue in the case is that Mueller was appointed special counsel in May 2017 by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, following the firing of FBI director James Comey, and Rosenstein made that appointment because the then-Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, had recused himself from the Russia investigation. This, according to Miller, meant that Mueller’s appointment did not enable him to compel Miller to testify. But the court decided otherwise.

“Because the Special Counsel is an inferior officer, and the Deputy Attorney General became the head of the Department by virtue of becoming the Acting Attorney General as a result of a vacancy created by the disability of the Attorney General, through recusal on the matter, we hold that Miller’s challenge to the appointment of the Special Counsel fails. Accordingly, we affirm the order finding Miller in civil contempt,” the ruling concludes.

Miller could now appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, but there’s no guarantee they would agree to hear his case.

Andrew Miller, per a profile last year in Law and Crime, has had an eclectic career. He’s been an operative in New York politics, working with candidates of both parties, as well as independents, such as when he advised the 2010 gubernatorial campaign of Kristin Davis, the former “Manhattan Madam,” of whom Stone is a known associate.