Today: “You seriously believe Trump would fire Mueller just because some unnamed Times sources say so?” Tomorrow, after Trump fires Mueller: “Of course firing Mueller was the right thing to do. Duh.”
He’s thinkin’ about it, says the NYT:
But behind the scenes, the president soon began entertaining the idea of firing Mr. Mueller even as his staff tried to discourage him from something they believed would turn a bad situation into a catastrophe, according to several people with direct knowledge of Mr. Trump’s interactions…
But people close to Mr. Trump say he is so volatile they cannot be sure that he will not change his mind about Mr. Mueller if he finds out anything to lead him to believe the investigation has been compromised. And his ability to endure a free-ranging investigation, directed by Mr. Mueller, that could raise questions about the legitimacy of his Electoral College victory, the topic that most provokes his rage, will be a critical test for a president who has continued on Twitter and elsewhere to flout the advice of his staff, friends and legal team…
The president was pleased by the ambiguity of his position on Mr. Mueller, and thinks the possibility of being fired will focus the veteran prosecutor on delivering what the president desires most: a blanket public exoneration.
“Just a reminder that our President is basically the kid from that ‘wish them into the cornfield’ Twilight Zone episode,” tweeted Ken “Popehat” White about Trump’s “volatility.” It’s a … good thing that you turned Comey into a jack-in-the-box, Donald. A very, very good thing!
A guy who led the FBI for 12 years probably won’t be intimidated by half-serious threats to can him from a job he’s only held for a few weeks, especially since doing so would turn him overnight into a media martyr for the rule of law. Can we have some real talk for a second, though? Is it not true that maybe 90 percent of the public, for myriad different and self-interested reasons, wants Trump to can Mueller? Trumpers want him to drop the axe to show The Swamp that they can’t get away with sabotaging Trump’s presidency by appointing Comey’s buddy to lead the Russiagate “witch hunt.” Anti-Trumpers want him to drop the axe to show that Trump really is the norm-destroying ogre that they’ve suspected he was, ready to obstruct justice in Nixonian fashion within his first six months in office. The media wants him to drop the axe because — c’mon. “President fires special counsel investigating his campaign aides for colluding with Russia”? You’ll get one headline like that in a lifetime if you’re lucky. And that doesn’t include all of the news aftershocks. Rod Rosenstein would certainly resign, as might multiple other DOJ deputies. So might Jeff Sessions (although probably not). Top aides from other departments, like Mattis or McMaster, may also feel duty bound to quit whether out of honor, because they suspect Trump of trying to block a lawful probe, or out of sheer frustration at another unnecessary political clusterfark. It takes a lot of potential blowback to have the many fractious factions of the Trump White House united on whether a course of action is good or bad, but firing Mueller seems to have them all on the same page in opposition. They may be the only people in America right now who are.
One other nugget from the Times story helps answer a question I posed yesterday. Why did Trump pal Chris Ruddy decide to go on TV and say that Trump was considering firing Mueller? My best guess was that Ruddy was worried that Trump really might do it, not realizing what a nightmare it would create for his administration, and wanted to sound the alarm publicly in hopes that the reaction would make Trump think twice. Per the NYT, that appears to have been his goal: “Mr. Ruddy has told friends that he went public with the Mueller story, in part, to prevent Mr. Trump from making a rash decision.” Although don’t underestimate the importance of the bit in the excerpt above about Trump luxuriating in the “ambiguity of his position.” It must have soothed him to have Ruddy out there reminding everyone that Trump is still the alpha-male-in-chief, willing and ready to fire anyone within his power to fire who crosses him. Mission accomplished. For now.
Exit question: So, when does Trump decide to ignore everyone around him and fire Mueller anyway? Over/under is July 4th.