Editorial, March 18, 2018: Trump Sets the Stage for Firing Mueller

John Dowd, Trump's lawyer, demands an end to the Mueller investigation. (CNNPolitics)

Until now, Trump has publicly insisted that he was cooperating fully with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections and related matters.  One issue has been whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians. 

Yesterday Trump tweeted that “The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime.”  Today Trump tweeted that “Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans? Another Dem recently added…does anyone think this is fair? And yet, there is NO COLLUSION!”. 

Robert Mueller, of course, is a Republican appointed by another Republican, Rod Rosenstein, not that facts have any impact on Trump.

The basis for Trump claiming there is no collusion is the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee.  This week they terminated the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the elections.  

In closing the investigation, the Republicans concluded that that Russian President Vladimir Putin did not exhibit a “preference” for Trump during the election — even though this is contrary to an official determination by the U.S. intelligence community.  Committee Republicans also stated that there was no evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia. 

Of course, if you work at avoiding evidence you are unlikely to find it.  Despite objections from Democrats, the Republicans on the Committee refused to call some 45 witnesses, including key witnesses who have been indicted by Mueller or pled guilty to his charges.  The Republicans also would not force Trump administration officials to address key questions they refused to answer when they testified, although the Democrats pressed for that. 

Republicans on the Committee, led by Devin Nunes, had already done everything they could to follow Trump’s wishes and impede the investigation.  By closing the investigation prematurely, they gave Trump the pretext to discredit Special Counsel Robert Mueller and provide a reason to fire him. 

In a harbinger of what may be to come, on Friday Trump fired Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.  In response, McCabe said that he was fired because of the events he witnessed after Trump’s firing of former FBI director James Comey.  Prior to Mueller, Comey was the investigator of ties between Russia and the Trump campaign before he was fired by Trump.  McCabe can corroborate Comey’s testimony and McCabe was also one of the first at the FBI to examine potential Trump campaign ties to Russia. 

This week it was reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller subpoenaed business records of the Trump organization for the first time, including some concerning its dealings with Russia.  Shortly after that, Trump’s personal attorney John Dowd publicly praised McCabe’s firing and called for termination of Mueller’s investigation.  Of course, if Trump were innocent, why terminate the investigation?

It is impossible to see all this as anything but Trump laying the groundwork for firing Robert Mueller as the Mueller investigation closes in on Trump.  As Sen. Mark Warner, the vice chairman on the Senate Intelligence Committee, responded, “Every member of Congress, Republican and Democrat, needs to speak up in defense of the Special Counsel. Now.” 

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