I sadly must conclude that the president has a head injury. Either that or it’s time for a retest on that mental exam his doctor gave him.
Why would he do this, particularly under oath? It’s bananas.
Trump asks "did Hillary do it under oath?" when asked if he would testify under oath with Bob Mueller
Trump: "I would do it under oath, absolutely" pic.twitter.com/krNOb0KncT
— The Beat with Ari Melber on MSNBC 📺 (@TheBeatWithAri) January 24, 2018
Maybe that’s Mueller’s secret weapon for cornering Trump: Just ask him to do the opposite of whatever Hillary did or didn’t do, knowing that he’s predisposed to go that route. “You know, Mr. President, Hillary never pleaded guilty…” Maggie Haberman, one of the reporters in the scrum heard on the audio, speculates that he might not realize that lying to the feds is a crime whether or not it’s under oath. How could he not know that after Mike Flynn just got indicted for it?
“I am looking forward to it, actually,” Trump said, when asked if he was going to talk to Mueller. “Here is the story: There has been no collusion whatsoever. There is no obstruction whatsoever. And I am looking forward to it.”
Trump later said he would do the interview under oath.
“I would do it under oath. I would do it,” he said, later adding, “I would do it under oath, yeah.”
There’s a 99 percent chance that he doesn’t grasp how much he has to lose from lying in an interview and a one percent chance that he’s made a cunning calculation that as long as there’s no evidence of collusion there’s nothing Mueller or anyone else can do to him. Technically that’s not true, of course: If Trump lied to federal officers or if Mueller convinced a jury that he had obstructed justice, both of those would be federal offenses. But imagine the uproar on the right, and maybe not just on the right, if the special counsel tried to indict the president (or if Congress tried to remove him) for obstructing justice in a case where he committed no underlying crime. You’re going to send Donald Trump to prison or boot him out of office for undermining an investigation that ended up … clearing him on the key charge? C’mon. At a minimum, to truly damage Trump, Mueller would need to show that he knew Flynn was guilty of something serious and obstructed justice on his behalf rather than on his own. But even then, unless Flynn’s crime somehow benefited Trump, you’re stuck wanting to punish Trump for stupidly doing something illegal out of kindness for a friend and former aide rather than trying to profit himself. Is a president going to removed by the Senate for that, as obnoxious as the idea of the chief executive obstructing justice may be?
By the way, since we’re on the subject of Trump saying foolish things to federal officers, here’s a fun little scoop breaking tonight from CNN:
FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe did not vote in the 2016 presidential general election, but did vote in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, according to two Virginia campaign consultants — one Republican, one Democratic — with access to the Virginia campaign participation rolls.
McCabe’s voter participation is in question after a report by The Washington Post that President Donald Trump asked McCabe, who at that time was the acting FBI director, who he voted for in the 2016 election. According to the Post, McCabe told the President that he didn’t vote.
Is McCabe, whose impartiality Trump has questioned repeatedly because he’s married to a Democrat, actually … a Republican? Maybe! But maybe not. The 2016 primary in Virginia was very tight on the Republican side but a foregone conclusion on the Democratic side. Hillary trounced Bernie Sanders there by nearly 30 points whereas Trump ended up edging out Marco Rubio by less than three in a divided field. The important part, though, is that Virginia has an open primary, i.e. you’re not required to be registered with a party to vote in their primary. You simply ask for the ballot you want, Democratic or Republican, when you go to vote. Around 780,000 people voted in the Democratic primary in Virginia in 2016 but more than a million voted in the Republican one because the latter was so much more competitive. It’s possible that McCabe voted strategically: He may be an independent or even a Democrat who concluded that he’d be wasting his ballot if he voted in the Democratic race so he crossed over and voted in the Republican one instead. Maybe in hopes of stopping Trump.
In lieu of an exit question, go read the transcript of Rush Limbaugh’s monologue today pleading with Trump not to do an interview with Mueller. Good advice!