Here’s what I’d be tempted to do if I were President Trump: I’d direct the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to investigate Iran’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, including any Obama-administration collusion in that enterprise.
I would make sure to call it a “counterintelligence investigation,” putting no limitations on the special counsel — just as with the investigation that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been unleashed to conduct into Trump “collusion” with Russia. That is, I would not restrict the prosecutor and investigators to digging for specified criminal violations. Or, indeed, any criminal violations. I’d just tell the special counsel, “Have at it” — with unbound authority to scrutinize the negotiations surrounding the eventual Iran nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).
Why would I do this? Well, because I disagree with Obama-administration foreign policy, of course. Under the Mueller “collusion” precedent, it is evidently now American practice to criminalize foreign-policy disputes under the pretext of conducting a counterintelligence investigation.
It is difficult to come to any other conclusion based on the guilty plea that Mueller just pried out of Michael Flynn.
The Justice Department did not, as the pertinent special-counsel regulations require, identify specific crimes it suspected had been committed by Trump-campaign officials. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein disclosed no factual predicate calling for a criminal investigation from which Trump’s Justice Department would be ethically required to recuse itself.