A few days ago, I reported on the contingency plan for the Special Counsel’s Office (SCO) and its restricted staffing and funding during the Trump-manufactured government shutdown. While this plan is definitely in effect, there is more cheerful news. The comprehensive contingency plan for the entire Justice Department (DOJ) specifies a somewhat different funding and staffing scenario.
Under the Justice plan, eight full-time SCO lawyers are excepted from the shutdown and continue working on Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump-Russia. Additionally, the Office is funded by a “permanent, indefinite appropriation,” giving it the ability to work uninterrupted. This provision is found on page nine of the DOJ contingency plan as follows:
It’s noteworthy that other DOJ agencies working with Mueller’s team such as the various U.S. Attorneys and FBI are mostly exempted from forced layoffs during the lapse in funding. The DOJ plan states that 84% of its employees are excepted from furlough. Criminal cases will proceed without pause; civil cases may be paused but if a judge refuses a request for continuance, then they will continue. Altogether 95,302 of 113,546 employees with the DOJ are unaffected by the shutdown.
This is good news that counters the brief OSC contingency plan.
The center holds. Robert Mueller and his team may make their own photocopies; mail distribution will be sluggish; their footsteps echo down long, empty hallways. But the Special Counsel and his cadre of eight persist – despite the Trump shutdown.