Read His Words More Closely

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

I heard the Times Carl Hulse a few moments ago on CNN tell Dana Bash that he thought President Trump saying Bob Mueller would “be fair” contradicted and in some ways complicated the chorus of attacks on Mueller we see from Republicans on Capitol Hill. ‘You say Mueller is biased and on a witch hunt. But the President himself says Mueller is fair’, and so forth. I think this misreads what the President said.

President Trump has a decades-old penchant for public comments which are nominally conciliatory but contain an indifferently concealed note of menace. This is usually accompanied by hangers-on stating that message of menace openly and volubly. Indeed, in this voice of gentle menace Trump often invokes his lickspittles’ threats as what ‘other people are saying.’  “Some of the congressmen have been unbelievable in pointing out what a witch hunt the whole thing is. So, I think it’s been proven that there is no collusion.”

This is in line with the tough guy antics you see from the mobsters Trump has long openly admired and imitated. In the case of Mueller I think Trump states pretty clearly that he thinks Mueller will be “fair” because he has no choice. “Fair” means exonerating Trump. The President thinks he’ll do that because he has to.

Listen to the key passage.

TRUMP: No, it doesn’t bother me because I hope that he’s going to be fair. I think that he’s going to be fair. And based on that [inaudible]. There’s been no collusion. But I think he’s going to be fair. And if he’s fair — because everybody knows the answer already, Michael. I want you to treat me fairly. O.K.?

SCHMIDT: Believe me. This is —

TRUMP: Everybody knows the answer already. There was no collusion. None whatsoever.

The key sentence is “And if he’s fair – because everybody knows the answer already, Michael.”

The President is saying that we already know the facts, i.e., “there was no collusion.” There’s nothing more to find out. For practical purposes the investigation is already over. All that’s left is whether Mueller is honest about the results. Literally the only choice is to exonerate the President, i.e. “be fair”. Unless of course you want to lie or do something terrible and engage in a witch hunt. The earlier portion of the passage I excerpted above confirms this point. The facts are known. Everybody knows them. The only choice is to exonerate Trump. President Trump hopes Mueller will do the right thing since he really has no choice.