It’s been an adage for more than three years now: Everything Donald Trump touches turns to dust. Well, the adage is often populated by another noun at the end there, but for a morning article, let’s just go with dust. But it includes everyone he’s hired as well — as evidenced by the trail of prison jumpsuits the Trump campaign for president has left in its wake.
The last high-profile bust for Team Mueller was, of course, the odious Roger Stone, a supervillain in his own mind and neoconservative-turned-alt-right mercenary for sale to the highest bidder. Stone was responsible for much of the coordination between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks, the “transparency” outlet now proven to have been directly in the employ of Russian intelligence during the campaign.
But one of Stone’s henchmen, Andrew Miller, has been a thorn in Mueller’s side since last year when he issued a challenge to the authority of the special counsel on the grounds that he, like some others under the microscope, thought that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein did not have the jurisdiction to appoint Mueller in the first place.
As funny and frankly stupid as that sounds, it did create a speedbump in the legal process, since Miller resisted all subpoenas while his legal challenge was mounted, preventing Mueller from interviewing him.
But ironically, what Miller has unintentionally done with the challenge is the result of basically a bad gamble with the law.
Last year, when Miller first challenged Mueller’s authority, DC District Chief Judge Beryl Howell shot him down, at which point Miller continued to ignore the subpoena, actually hoping to get found in contempt of court. The gamble was that he could then use a little-known provision in the law from 1987, when future Clinton prosecutor Ken Starr joined a Circuit opinion that a witness could appeal a contempt ruling in order to challenge a prosecutor’s authority:
On Miller and #contempt, in an opinion (ironically) joined by then-Judge Ken Starr, the D.C. Circuit in 1987 sustained the ability of a grand jury witness to attack the underlying validity of the prosecutor’s appointment by appealing a contempt citation:https://t.co/Z0SYfrwn3C pic.twitter.com/F6SefzO5Yb
— Steve Vladeck (@steve_vladeck) August 10, 2018
But when Miller lost that gamble Tuesday morning in the DC Court of Appeals, he lost that challenge probably for everyone who ever tries to use it again — by upholding the contempt citation, the Appeals court essentially created binding precedent for such cases.
In other words,
Featured image via screen capture