Viewed in isolation, the decision by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint former FBI Director Robert Mueller as Special Counsel to investigate possible connections between the Trump campaign and the Russian government is defensible, and even good, though unnecessary.
Rosenstein was virtually a consensus appointment and was perfectly capable of supervising the investigation in a fair, impartial and credible manner.
However, Rosenstein was part of President Donald Trump’s decision to fire James Comey as FBI director last week. Critics allege that was an attempt to interfere in the Russia investigation.
By delegating the task of overseeing the investigation to someone outside of that decision chain, Rosenstein has protected the integrity of his office and the image of the investigation. The fact that Mueller worked under the previous administration also helps in that regard.
But viewed in recent historical context, the appointment of a Special Counsel is unfair and indefensible. President Barack Obama faced a large number of scandals, many of which involved apparent violations of federal law. And yet in eight long years, Obama skated by without any serious investigations by the Department of Justice, or with investigations that were quashed from above.