Something Big Is Happening in The Background

White House chief of staff John Kelly listens as President Donald Trump speaks at a briefing with senior military leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House on October 5, 2017. (Photo by Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images)

It’s easy to see President Trump’s tweet today, which says Jeff Sessions should fire Bob Mueller, as yet more of the cacophony of mania and aggression that spews forth from his Twitter account daily like water flowing over a waterfall. But I fear that may not be the case. President Trump has criticized Jeff Sessions many times. His anger at him is notorious. But I don’t think he has ever so clearly in public told Sessions to fire Mueller or given him such a specific “cause” for doing so. I do not think this is an accident or a random escalation. 

Like his arch-toady Rudy Giuliani President Trump almost always says too much. For all its obscenity, one of the great things about Trump’s twitter account – for foreign governments – is that it gives you a pretty immediate and raw read of the President’s emotional state at any given moment. This is also helpful if you’re trying to report on Trump, for the same reason. It’s very hard to know what triggers these outbursts, weird and revealing statements, and so forth. But what we’ve learned over time is that they almost always indicate hidden major developments going on behind the scenes. They follow a clear and predictable cause and effect pattern.

I think we should assume that the President’s perception of the threat which the Mueller probe poses to him and his family has ratcheted up dramatically and very recently. He is mobilizing new threats to end it now. We can speculate on what that change might be. It might be connected to Michael Cohen. It might be connected to fears Paul Manafort will become a cooperating witness. It could be something happening in the background which we know nothing about. I’d say the last possibility is the most likely since we’ve seen so many times that we know very, very little about what is happening in the Mueller probe.

My sense of the situation is only confirmed by Sarah Sanders just concluded press briefing. They are holding to the point that the President didn’t order Sessions to end the probe; he said what “should” happen. There’s no attempt to walk back or defuse the sense of escalation. The President almost certainly would not allow that.

Regardless, it’s definitely something. Something new. Some dramatically escalating threat. How can we know this? We can’t know it as a matter of fact. But all the history of this case suggests this kind of direct cause and effect.

I think we should be prepared for the President to fire Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein in order to claw his way toward either finding someone who will fire Mueller or simply doing the job himself – something I suspect, constitutionally, he can do.

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

TPM Staff
Latest Edblog
  • |
    May 28, 2022 11:02 a.m.

    From TPM Reader MH … I think you are right about public opinion and guns but for the wrong reason….

  • |
    May 28, 2022 9:50 a.m.

    From TPM Reader DS … I want to share a story with you and then get to a specific point….

  • |
    May 28, 2022 9:44 a.m.

    From TPM Reader TK … Thanks for the articles you’ve written on guns. As usual it’s very interesting and thought-provoking….

Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: