By Quin Hillyer at the Washington Examiner;

Two questions: What should be done with the federal probe into Russian influence on American elections, and who should lead the FBI?

Those will be the key considerations, going forward, once everybody overcomes initial outrage about President Trump’s justifiable, but abrupt and ham-handed, firing of FBI Director James Comey.

Already, leading Democrats are pulling out the crutch always favored by whichever party is momentarily out of power: They are demanding a “special prosecutor” for the inquiry concerning Russia.

It’s a terrible idea.

The better idea is to produce the right answer to the second question, and let that new FBI director just do his job.

A special prosecutor is almost always a bad idea, and these specific circumstances are not ones that would make an ordinarily bad course of action into a good one. It’s ordinarily ill-advised because special prosecutors by their very nature are prone to going rogue. Operating at least somewhat outside the usual chain of command, without the usual prosecutorial constraints, and with a perverse incentive to “get a scalp” (a conviction) to justify his own existence, a special prosecutor can easily become abusive.

Comey’s good buddy Patrick Fitzgerald, for example, went way overboard as a special prosecutor in persecuting former vice presidential aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby during which Fitzgerald desperately tried to link Vice President Dick Cheney to some crime, any crime. In doing so, he almost certainly secured a conviction of an innocent man….

[Later in the column…]

What’s needed for the Russia investigation isn’t a super-Javert accountable mostly to his own sense of importance, but rather a reinvigoration of the ordinary chain of command, accountable to multiple means of constitutional oversight. The problem with Comey, for example, wasn’t that he was too “political” in any one direction, but rather that he was too much of a self-important grandstander. He acted like a special prosecutor without the title.

What is needed not just for the Russia probe but for the overall health of the FBI — and, more broadly, of the cause of justice that federal law enforcement is supposed to serve — is for the agency to act with sober professionalism rather than treat the probe as so earth-shaking that it requires departures from all normal rules of procedure.

This means the bureau needs a low-key, high-energy, uber-competent, well-experienced director….

[The full column is at this link.]



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