Special counsel Robert Mueller, Politico’s Josh Dawsey reports, “is working with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on its investigation into [former Trump campaign chairman] Paul Manafort and his financial transactions, according to several people familiar with the matter.”
The partnership between Mueller and Schneiderman potentially shifts the balance of power between the president and investigators, who are charged with probing the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, for three reasons.
First, as Dawsey notes, Trump does not have the power to pardon state crimes. That means that Schneiderman could bring charges against Trump associates — or maybe even Trump himself — without the president being able to use his powers to nip such a prosecution in the bud. It also means that Trump would have less ability to use the promise of a pardon to encourage his associates not to cooperate with the investigation, since such a pardon would not protect them from state charges.
Second, although federal regulations could potentially make it more difficult for Trump to fire Mueller, it is likely that Trump could ensure the special counsel’s removal if he was determined to do so. Trump, however, has no authority over Schneiderman.
Finally, Mueller’s partnership with Schneiderman suggests that the two men are sharing at least some of the evidence, testimony, and other records that Mueller has collected during his investigation. If Mueller is removed, the Justice Department could potentially claim ownership over any official records in Mueller’s possession. But they most likely could not claim any records held by Schneiderman.
So, if Mueller is fired, Schneiderman could potentially pick up at least part of the investigation where Mueller left off.