Why doesn’t President Alpha Male fire Andrew McCabe, the acting director, himself? Is it because he fears confrontation, or because he knows that canning Comey and then McCabe in short order would instigate an open revolt at the FBI against White House?
Better yet, why did Trump interview McCabe for the position of director in May if he thinks McCabe was in the tank for Democrats?
The donations to McCabe’s wife came from Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe’s PAC, not from Hillary, and the Bureau claims McCabe didn’t assume any oversight role over the Emailgate investigation until months after Mrs. McCabe’s state senate run ended in defeat. Comey remained in charge of the investigation. If Trump thought McCabe’s work on that investigation was compromised due to the McAuliffe money, he should have fired McCabe straightaway on Inauguration Day, not interviewed him to become permanent director.
But this isn’t about McCabe, of course. It’s about scrounging for reasons to whine about Sessions.
“He wants to fire him but he doesn’t want the confrontation,” said one adviser who frequently speaks to him. “He doesn’t mind the long negative storyline. He will torture him every single day.”
This person said Trump also wants to see how Sessions will respond to humiliation and has mocked his response so far.
In the West Wing, there is a growing consensus that Sessions is not long for this world, several officials said. “It’s kind of clear how this ends.”
Per Politico, “Sessions has sent word to the White House that he has no plans to resign and wants to stay as attorney general even amid daily humiliation from the boss,” which is in line with yesterday’s report of him planning to test the loyalties of nationalists between him and Trump. That’s a nightmare scenario potentially for populist media, writes Warren Henry. What if the great nationalist revolution turns out to be nothing more than a pro-Trump cult of personality, in which grassroots righties support the president tormenting his stalwart, principled anti-immigration AG day after day?
The entertainers who love Sessions are in danger of learning they have no more influence among the rank-and-file than last year’s shocked NeverTrumpers. The pundits who rationalized their transactional embrace of Trump through Sessions are finding out that the transaction resembles Darth Vader’s deal with Lando Calrissian. They are left praying Trump doesn’t alter the deal any further.
The conventional wisdom today has it that Trump will eventually lose interest in this feud and let Sessions stay on. He’s had periods of disfavor with all sorts of people around him, including Steve Bannon, but has held off on dropping the axe on all but Mike Flynn and Comey. I don’t know, though: The more Trump perceives Sessions as defiant and willing to drive a wedge between him and his base by refusing to go quietly, the more Trump may decide that he needs to show “strength” by escalating further and firing Sessions, even though that would bring down a rain of fire from congressional Republicans. Fox News is reporting today that Sessions will soon announce an investigation into intelligence leaks, which should make the president happy. Maybe he’ll treat it as an olive branch and a pretext to back off.
Exit question: Why didn’t Trump accept Sessions’s resignation when he offered it in May? The whole point of bashing him on Twitter day after day is to get him to quit instead of firing him. Well, Trump had that opportunity two months ago and passed it up. I can only assume that he’s grown more alarmed at the progress of the Mueller probe as it’s advanced. Initially he may have taken a “wait and see” approach to it; now, knowing that Mueller is digging around in finances, he’s jonesing on rage at Sessions for not having remained in charge of the Russia probe and obstructed it on the president’s behalf. Exit quotation from Trey Gowdy, defending Sessions: “He doesn’t work for the President; he works for a blindfolded woman holding a set of scales.”