"So what happens to that still unfinished Russia investigation? “The short answer is that no one knows,” said Susan Hennessey, the managing editor of the Lawfare blog and a former intelligence community lawyer. (The FBI’s investigation runs parallel to at least two other investigations, one in the Senate and one in the House, looking into similar questions.) The signs, however, are not encouraging. The abrupt and strange way Comey was fired, as well as the lack of a nominee to replace him, “is a very political decision, and the message it sends seems to be to back off the investigation,” said Amy Zegart, the co-director for Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation and senior fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution.
If that’s the case, there are many ways the bureau could “back off” without actually looking like it has backed off or even stopped investigating Russian interference. According to the former FBI agent Clinton Watts, the limbs of the beheaded bureau will keep doing their work. “The investigative part is independent,” said Watts. But even if the work goes on, what will that work look like? “The investigation will go forward in the short run,” said Jack Goldsmith, a professor at Harvard Law School and an assistant attorney general under George W. Bush. “The question is how vigorous it will be.”