Trump’s Slow Speed Chase Saturday Night Massacre

US President Donald Trump waves upon arrival at Morristown Municipal Airport in Morristown, New Jersey, on August 4, 2018. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
August 29, 2018 6:47 p.m.

Don’t forget the big picture. President Trump has bullied GOP senators about Sessions long enough that now they’re publicly signaling it’s okay if President Trump fires him. If Sessions is replaced it will presumably be someone who doesn’t need to recuse themselves from the Russia probe. So it takes Rosenstein out of the mix or at least would allow him to be taken out of the mix.

Then there’s Donald McGahn.

He’s the one who refused to fire Bob Mueller or to make the firing happen. He’s also been resisting cooperating on issuing a pardon to Paul Manafort. President Trump has finally taken the plunge and canned him. It was, admittedly in a uniquely Trumpian way, announcing on Twitter that he would be leaving, even though McGahn didn’t know he would be leaving.

None of these folks are great guys as far as the broader Russia probe is concerned. Both Sessions and Rosenstein cooperated with Trump to fire Comey – outlining notionally plausible reasons for his dismissal even as they knew the true reason Trump was doing it. Sessions is a confirmed rightist ideologue. Rosenstein doesn’t appear to be an ideologue in Sessions’ mold. But he’s a professional Republican. McGahn is the same, a professional Republican lawyer who’s done a frightfully good job helping Trump pack the federal judiciary with right-wing ideologues and done other things to protect the President from the investigation as best he can. But even for them there are limits – limits that are too much for Trump because making himself invulnerable to the law is the only acceptable outcome.

Each action only has one purpose, one President Trump doesn’t even really try to deny: ending the Russia probe. At the risk of stating the obvious: President Trump is guilty and he is laying the groundwork for ending the probe he believes (probably rightly) constitutes an existential threat to his Presidency. It is on-going obstruction; it’s on-going misrule and high crimes which are what impeachment is meant to be the solution to. But neither of those are really the key point. No President – I don’t care how obsessed with his own power, how hyper-focused on deference and respect, how anything – no President goes to these lengths unless he is guilty of something very bad and which he believes poses a mortal threat to his presidency, his wealth, his reputation.

These points are all obvious. But since no one is doing anything about, since no one with the power to do anything about it is doing anything about, we still collectively have a difficult time processing or accepting the truth of the situation.

The TPM Journalism Fund: A New Way To Support TPM
We're launching the TPM Journalism Fund as an additional way for readers and members to support TPM. Every dollar contributed goes toward:
  • -Hiring More Journalists
  • -Providing free memberships to those who cannot afford them
  • -Supporting independent, non-corporate journalism
Are you experiencing financial hardship?
Apply for a free community-supported membership
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Special Projects Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer: