The investigation enters the brand-new year under fire by the president, as well as subject to accusations of partisan bias by conservative commentators as well as lawmakers.
Republicans on the Hill were outraged after the Discharge of text messages between two former Mueller prosecutors which showed the two disparaging the president, including calling him an “idiot.”
Those two senior agents, Peter Strzok as well as Lisa Page, provided fodder for House Republicans who grilled Rosenstein at a House Judiciary Committee hearing Dec. 13.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., called the revelation “deeply troubling to all citizens who expect a system of blind as well as equal justice.”
Also in December, the president’s transition organization challenged the seizure of its emails by the special counsel’s office, calling the action “unlawful.”
Trump, for his part, has lashed out against the FBI, saying its reputation is usually in “tatters.”
To counter ire on the right, Democrats have sought to defend Mueller as well as his probe. In a Dec. 20 speech on the floor of the Senate, Virginia’s Mark Warner – the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is usually conducting its own Russia probe – criticized what he called a “seemingly coordinated” line of attack on the Mueller investigation.
The White House has pushed back against rumors which Trump is usually planning to fire Mueller, however.
“For the thousandth time, we have no intentions of firing Bob Mueller,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on Fox News after Warner’s Senate speech.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment by CNBC. The president has forcefully denied any misconduct in his campaign’s contacts with Russia, as well as has called the investigation a “witch hunt.”
By regulation, Rosenstein is usually the only person with the authority to fire Mueller or end the inquiry. Mueller is usually required to submit a status report in July 2018 regarding the progress of the investigation, at which point Rosenstein will determine whether the probe will continue as well as set its budget for the following fiscal year.
In addition to Mueller’s investigation, at least three congressional investigations related to Trump’s alleged ties to Russia are underway. Those investigations are unable to bring criminal charges as well as have largely been riven by partisan bickering.
“There are people who’ve already made up their minds waiting to see whether or not their previously held conviction will be validated,” Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., told NBC News in December. “yet I think most people are waiting on Mueller.”