Paul Manafort‘s legal team brought a motion to dismiss on Tuesday, noting that Rosenstein could not appoint Mueller to any investigation outside the scope of the 2016 campaign since Sessions did not recuse himself for anything outside the campaign. I agree with this take on Mueller’s authority. If we follow that argument that would mean Sessions himself has exclusive authority to appoint a special counsel for non-collusion charges, and Sessions has taken no such action. Sessions himself should make that clear to Mueller, rather than await court resolution. Doing so would remove three of the four areas of inquiry from Mueller’s requested interview with President Trump.
Sessions formally notifying Mueller that he does not have authority to act outside of campaign-related cases and cases related to obstruction of Mueller’s investigation would be doing what the Constitution compels: enforcing the Appointments Clause of the Constitution. Additionally, Sessions notifying Mueller that he does not have authority to act outside of campaign-related cases would be exercising Sessions’ court-recognized Constitutional obligation to “direct and supervise litigation” conducted by the Department of Justice. Furthermore, Sessions notifying Mueller that he does not have authority to act outside of campaign-related cases protects against the inappropriate use of the federal grand jury that defendant Manafort now rightly complains about.