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Politics

The History Of Special Prosecutors In American Politics

Robert Mueller is the latest in a long line of Federal Prosecutors who have played critical roles in American political history.
Carolyn Kaster
/
AP
Special counsel Robert Mueller speaks at the Department of Justice Wednesday, May 29, 2019, in Washington, about the Russia investigation.

Robert Mueller is part of a long line of special prosecutors in American history. Scholars point to the Ulysses S. Grant administration as the first to recognize that the U.S. Department of Justice might not be the most reliable entity to investigate a sitting president.

The Whiskey Ring scandal in 1875 implicated government officials close to the commander in chief and led to the appointment of the first special prosecutor.

Host Frank Stasio talks to scholar Katy Harriger about the history of the special prosecutor in American politics and about how the rules governing this position have changed over the decades.

Harriger is a professor in the department of politics and international affairs at Wake Forest University. She also shares her analysis of Robert Mueller’s work and what lessons he may have learned from previous special prosecutors.

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