|All eyes are now on deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, pressured|
both ways on a special prosecutor.
Here are the top choices:
1. He knows he's innocent and is sick of the investigation.
2. He believes he's innocent (in terms of staff involvement) and is sick of the investigation.
3. He knows he's guilty and is getting sick of worrying.
4. He believes he’s guilty (in terms of staff involvement) and is sick of worrying.
5. He hasn't a clue but fears the answers – including his tax returns – may taint his election.
None of those reasons, you’ll note, justify firing Comey. So initially he tried horsing around the barn with Clinton’s emails. If the Democrats were still angry about that, wouldn’t they forget everything else? Not so much.
All the reasons listed above discount the frequent speculation about the mental state of the president. Frankly, that way lies madness.
Was Trump unhinged? Or shrewd? Flailing? Or deliberate? Whichever way you think, he did it -- and insists Russia was on his mind when he did it in the Lester Holt TV interview. The only firm conclusion left is that he didn’t mind making his staff and the Department of Justice look like dupes, which may also be a prelude to what the Russian investigation will do to the rest of us.
Some pretty formidable names are arguing Trump should be impeached before he destroys the democracy, but they may be getting ahead of the game in our partisan gridlock. Nixon? He’s not up to that level yet. Clinton? Trump has so openly messed with women that even that can’t be used against him.
No, he is the misleading shiny object, claiming Obama wiretapped him (massively disproven except to him) or threatening Comey had better hope a tape of their dinner doesn’t exist (while Comey clearly hopes one does). He’s gambling that tweets are not facts to hang him in court.
As Obama’s White House counsel Bob Bauer noted in a Lawfare column, “As scandals-in-the-making go, this one may become famous for featuring the President as the principal witness against himself: he seems committed to uncovering any cover-up.”
He figures some will always believe him – that’s his view of America. He can rely – for a little while -- on leaders in his party to back him up, such as Sen. Mitch McConnell (the “over my dead body” defense against a special prosecutor) and his SNL boy slave, Paul Ryan. They shrug off his behavior in ways they would never allow for a Democrat. Their profiles in cowardice are easy to understand – their party has the White House and this may not happen again for ages. The deciding line may be whether Trump will cost them any possibility of getting it back.
I’ve been struck by how Trump’s gamble that he’ll escape echoes Gov. Scott Walker’s behavior in the John Doe case, where big money and subservient high court came to his rescue. What worked in Wisconsin may work in the US by pulling executive strings.
|Sen. Whitehouse one of the few Democrats who think|
twice about a special prosecutor.
Respected Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse fears it would further delay an investigation whose length in any case will be frustratingly long to the American public. But with the potential of criminal prosecutions in his toolkit, a special prosecutor has strengthened powers of subpoenas and witness compulsion, which may actually speed the process.
The Republicans argue that criminality is not yet clear so that a special prosecutor is premature. Rosenstein, on the other hand, needs to redeem his reputation in the face of how blatantly the White House mischaracterized his role in the Comey case and apparently tried to pin the blame on him. So several kinds of pressures are underway.
Historically, Trump likes turmoil – the lack of a clear path is where he thrives, contradicting his own statements to demonstrate he is just as confused and unpredictable as his rally shriekers. The last thing he needs is for his supporters to think hard about those five reasons and which ones make the most sense. Rational citizens have already chosen.