While the Justice Department didn’t precisely cave to polls, it truly does matter that a majority of Americans want this cloud over our presidency investigated and removed. Keep up that pressure, for the coming months may be particularly dangerous.
The Trump presidency may now be disintegrating, tumbling toward entropy.
By firing James Comey as FBI director, President Trump set in motion the appointment Wednesday evening of Robert Mueller as special counsel. Mueller is a Trump nightmare: A pro who ran the FBI for 12 years and is broadly respected by both parties in Washington for his competence and integrity. If Trump thought he was removing a thorn by firing Comey, he now faces a grove of thistles.
One crucial lesson here: Pressure matters. It was public opinion that stalled the Republican effort to repeal Obamacare, and it is public opinion in part that will ensure the integrity of this investigation.
While the Justice Department didn’t precisely cave to polls, it truly does matter that a majority of Americans want this cloud over our presidency investigated and removed; legal decisions unfold in a political context. Keep up that pressure, for the coming months may be particularly dangerous.
We don’t, of course, know what Mueller will find, and Trump has reiterated his denial of collusion with the Kremlin. Some Democrats seem to assume an investigation will prove a secret deal between Trump and Vladimir Putin, but many smart people I speak to wonder if it will end up more gray. They foresee evidence of collusion by Trump’s aides, and of financial pathways linking Moscow to Trump and his campaign, but perhaps no proof of a quid pro quo involving Trump himself.
The aides most at risk may be Paul Manafort and Mike Flynn, and NBC is reporting that multiple subpoenas have been issued for records involving them.
In addition, The Washington Post reported Wednesday on a remarkable recording in which House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy declared last June that he believed that Putin finances Trump. Talking with House Speaker Paul Ryan and other leaders, McCarthy said, “I think Putin pays” Trump. When people laughed, McCarthy quickly added, “Swear to God!”
Ryan swore those present to secrecy. “No leaks,” Ryan said. “This is how we know we’re a real family here.”
When The Post asked Ryan and McCarthy about the statements, their offices flatly denied them. Informed that The Post had a recording, they backtracked and suggested it was a joke.
If it’s not humor, this is extraordinary: The Republican House leadership suggested that Putin was keeping Trump on his payroll and that this must be kept secret — even as they thundered about Hillary Clinton’s emails!
(An aside: Thank God for the battle unfolding between The Washington Post and The New York Times. This is the best kind of newspaper war, keeping America straight. I’ve been very critical of media coverage of the presidential…