The NY Times reports that special counsel Robert Mueller is now investigating President Trump’s tweets to determine if they represent attempts to obstruct justice:
The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, is scrutinizing tweets and negative statements from the president about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey, according to three people briefed on the matter.
Several of the remarks came as Mr. Trump was also privately pressuring the men — both key witnesses in the inquiry — about the investigation, and Mr. Mueller is examining whether the actions add up to attempts to obstruct the investigation by both intimidating witnesses and pressuring senior law enforcement officials to tamp down the inquiry…
None of what Mr. Mueller has homed in on constitutes obstruction, Mr. Trump’s lawyers said. They argued that most of the presidential acts under scrutiny, including the firing of Mr. Comey, fall under Mr. Trump’s authority as the head of the executive branch and insisted that he should not even have to answer Mr. Mueller’s questions about obstruction.
But privately, some of the lawyers have expressed concern that Mr. Mueller will stitch together several episodes, encounters and pieces of evidence, like the tweets, to build a case that the president embarked on a broad effort to interfere with the investigation…
Mr. Trump has navigated the investigation with a mix of public and private cajoling of witnesses.
Around the time he said publicly last summer that he would have chosen another attorney general had he known Mr. Sessions was going to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, Mr. Trump tried behind closed doors to persuade Mr. Sessions to reverse that decision. The special counsel’s investigators have also learned that Mr. Trump wanted Mr. Sessions to resign at varying points in May and July 2017 so he could replace him with a loyalist to oversee the Russia investigation.
The Times has also created a timeline which puts a few of Trump’s tweets in the context of other stories and events. Here’s Fox News’ Andrew Napolitano saying the question is whether Trump made “threats or rewards” on Twitter to people who might become Mueller’s witnesses.
The NY Times notes that Mueller has no intention of attempting to file charges against the president to court, so even if he decides there’s a pattern of obstruction here, all he can do is lay that out for Congress. If Democrats take back the House this fall, they could file articles of impeachment based on Mueller’s outline.
Frankly, I could easily see it happening, but it’s a long way from the proof of collusion with Russia we’ve been promised for more than a year. That’s the scandal Mueller was supposed to be rolling out here. Going after Trump over firing Comey (because Comey wouldn’t publicly say Trump wasn’t under investigation after he’d said so three times in private) is not in the same ballpark. But again, whatever Mueller coughs up will be enough for Democrats if they’re in control of the House next year.