June 17, 2017


Mueller Is Coming for Trump (Mark Joseph Stern, 6/15/17, Slate)

And what, exactly, will Mueller find now that he has substantially broadened the scope of his investigation? It's impossible to say, but easy to speculate. Reporters have already uncovered an astonishing amount of disturbing information about Trump. There's the Azerbaijan hotel project propped up by graft and bribery with ties to Iran's Revolutionary Guard. The charitable foundation accused of self-dealing and tax fraud. The questionable Deutsche Bank loans with ties to Moscow. The close association with allegedly criminal international companies. The journalists chasing these leads have hit snags, obstacles, and insurmountable walls, leading to stories that suggest the possibility of law-breaking but end with lingering uncertainty. Mueller need not put up with such stonewalling. He has the tools to dig much deeper.

Trump is now in a painful position: Either allow the investigation to continue and risk exposure of his possible criminality or fire Mueller and weather the resulting political catastrophe. Trump has already entertained the idea of terminating the special counsel. Although his advisers talked the president out of it for now, his surrogates have begun spreading anti-Mueller talking points--a coordinated effort to smear the special counsel that seems designed to preserve the possibility of his firing. Kellyanne Conway claimed Mueller's team opposed Trump's presidency, while Newt Gingrich insisted Mueller is "setting up a dragnet of obstruction" aimed at "undermining and crippling the Trump presidency." Trump himself has tweeted that Mueller's investigation is "the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history- led by some very bad and conflicted people!"

If Trump does fire Mueller, he will prove that he truly is terrified to have his past inspected by law enforcement--so terrified that he'd be willing to spark an enormous political firestorm. It's not clear, however, that terminating Mueller would help Trump in any way. Trump thought he could stop the Russia investigation by firing FBI Director James Comey, going so far as to tell Russian officials that Comey's termination would solve the problem. But it only saddled Trump with Mueller.

Posted by at June 17, 2017 6:25 PM