Donald Trump hardly welcomed the appointment of a special prosecutor to look into the relationship between his presidential campaign and Russia—in fact, he called it a “witch hunt” on Thursday morning—but if I were him, I’d go big: Embrace the American people’s hunger for the whole truth about what happened during the campaign and the first months of the administration—and who leaked what about whom—and call for an independent commission. If he truly believes he did nothing wrong, as he said in Wednesday’s statement, it’s the best way to prove it once and for all.
Why a commission? Because Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s appointment of former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel will not solve the problem at hand. His mandate is quite limited. According to the memorandum released by Rosenstein, Mueller will be authorized to “prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters” which includes “any matters that arose or may arise from the investigation.” But even if there was coordination between the Trump campaign/administration and the Russians, it is unlikely that any federal crimes were committed. Nor would there be anything criminal about the president unwisely disclosing information to the Russians that might allow them to discover intelligence sources and methods. He has the authority to declassify whatever he wants, even if it’s a bad idea.