President Trump may thank Attorney General Sessions

Despite his recent criticism of Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the “Russia collusion” investigation of the Trump campaign, President Trump should thank Sessions for stepping aside from the probe that is drawing breathless media coverage almost every day.

Why? Because any investigation overseen by Sessions that cleared Trump and his campaign of wrongdoing would immediately draw criticism, due to Sessions’ role as an important surrogate and close adviser to candidate Trump. Democrats would complain that no matter how little solid evidence was found, Sessions would be acting improperly in clearing Team Trump because he was hopelessly biased in favor of the president.

Beyond his recusal, Sessions took another wise step. He protected President Trump again by deferring to a special counsel (Robert Mueller), who has limited authority and must report to the deputy attorney general (Rod Rosenstein). This assured that when Trump is ultimately cleared – as seems likely –  the decision will not be called political. Knowing there was no evidence of criminality, this decision was a smart one by Sessions.

By law, if the deputy attorney general finds any sign of “misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or … other good cause, including violation of Departmental policies” by the special counsel, he can instantly remove him.

By law, unless otherwise authorized, the special counsel must stay focused on the limited inquiry – the politically motivated “collusion” charge. Fishing expeditions are not permitted.

By precedent, this limited inquiry should be over in less than a year. Many end in months.

Historically, of 22 special investigations conducted since 1978, 16 ended in no charges, five in some (none involving a president). The only exception was the investigation against President Clinton that ended with his impeachment by the House, followed by his acquittal in the Senate.

A “no indictments” conclusion by the special counsel, assuming no conflicts, limited scope and a final report filed, is empirically and predictably the most likely outcome. It would also be devastating for the Democrats, whose eggs are all in the “collusion basket.”

Such an outcome would vindicate President Trump, leaving critics empty in 2018, because Attorney General Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein had the foresight to keep the inquiry independent, limited and tightly monitored.

President Trump would be best advised to ignore the  Russia investigation. Let it go, stop tweeting about it and get on with governing to accomplish what voters sent him to Washington to get done. Most Americans are tired of the probe. They will make that clear when they go to the polls in 2018.

The president should have confidence in Sessions, who is a seasoned former prosecutor, man of integrity and major asset to the administration and nation. An unbiased investigation clearing Trump will deprive Democrats of the issue on which they now stake everything – a fizzling, false narrative, ultimately based not on law or reason, but resentment and disaffection for a conservative president.  The truth is painfully simple: Attorney General Sessions took the long view, and President Trump will – in time – thank him for doing so.

Robert Charles is a former assistant secretary of state for President George W. Bush, former naval intelligence officer and litigator. He served in the Reagan and Bush 41 White Houses.