I want to clarify and expand on something I noted yesterday. The President stands accused, now with a mounting array of evidence, of conspiring with a hostile foreign power to win the Presidency. He has now made clear that he will not permit any investigation of those accusations.
With the flurry of news over the last 24 hours over President Trump’s expanding war on Robert Mueller, we’ve heard a growing chorus of voices comparing this battle to that between the Clinton White House and Independent Counsel Ken Starr during the Whitewater/Lewinsky investigations. The comparison is quite simply lazy, baseless and stupid. It is fair to note that I am a bitter critic of President Trump and during the 1990s was a strong supporter of President Clinton. So my perspective is not disinterested. But I think the facts of the matter are so elementary that the case can be argued on the merits in a very convincing way.
Let’s go through some basic facts.
The Times and the Post tonight both have stories out reporting the Trump legal team’s expanding war against Special Counsel Robert Mueller and – hyperbolic as it may sound to say – the law itself. While there are a number of individual dimensions to the stories, the larger story, especially from the Post, is that the President refuses to allow the law to apply to himself or his family.
A host of stories are out tonight on the Trump White House’s new war about Special Counsel and former FBI Director Robert Mueller. But I want to focus on one thing. The Post reports that the President has been canvassing his lawyers about the possibility of pardoning aides, family and even pardoning himself.
From the Post …
Some of President Trump’s lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president’s authority to grant pardons, according to people familiar with the effort.
Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people. A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves.
Remember I explained on Monday how the Trump team’s obsession with getting hacked emails from Clinton’s (allegedly hacked but very likely not hacked) private email server may have spurred the Russian intelligence effort to hack and disclose the DNC and Podesta emails.
Look what this top Trump campaign official was looking at a month before the Don Jr. meeting …
— Dan Scavino Jr. (@DanScavino) May 12, 2016
It looks Obamacare repeal is back on track in the Senate. Sen. Paul now says he’ll allow the bill to move to the Senate floor as long as he’s allowed a vote on his version, which seems like an easy ask. That doesn’t mean Trumpcare will pass necessarily. But simply getting it to the floor for a vote would be a big, big step in that direction.
Entirely unsurprisingly, the new New York Times interview with President Trump shows he has learned nothing from the biggest mistakes of the first six months of his presidency. He has turned completely against Attorney General Jeff Sessions, one of his staunchest loyalists, who he now blames for essentially launching the Russia probe. He is also lashing out at Rod Rosenstein. Sessions and Rosenstein, were complicit, substantively if not legally, in firing FBI Director James Comey, what I believe is to date the greatest impeachable offense of his Presidency. He is setting out the terms upon which he will fire Robert Mueller. He inexplicably admitted to using his second conversation with Vladimir Putin to discuss the issues that had come up a year ago in that Trump Tower meeting with Don Jr.
You’ve heard about those. What I was almost more interested was the litany of bizarre and often inexplicable statements and claims that came before he even got to those issues. So I took a moment to annotate each of these passages …
Remarkable NYT interview today with President Trump in the Oval Office, in which he castigated his own attorney general as being “extremely unfair … to the president” for recusing himself from the Russia probe, accused James Comey of using the Steele dossier as leverage over Trump to keep his job, and warned that Special Counsel Robert Mueller would cross a red line if he investigated Trump family finances beyond any Russia connection. There’s much more.
I have just a moment to remind you that we’re coming into the home stretch of our annual Prime membership drive. It’s critical we build our membership rolls to make TPM vital, strong and expanding. It’s very important. Please take a quick moment and sign up today. Thank you.
I have never been convinced that our current policy of trying to unseat the Assad government in Syria is the only reasonable one for the US to pursue or even the correct one. A couple years ago I wrote that I wasn’t sure it made sense, or was even logical, to think we could battle ISIS in Syria and the Assad regime at the same time.
I know there are strong contrary arguments. The situation on the ground is now quite different with respect to ISIS and Assad than it was two years ago. But that’s not my point here. My point here is simply to grant that it is not inherently questionable or suspicious to end our covert support for anti-Assad rebels in Syria, as President Trump has just done, according to reports this afternoon. But it is highly, highly disquieting in the context of Trump’s extremely suspicious behavior with respect to Russia in general.