Tuesday, September 19, 2017


I know we're all enjoying the Robert Mueller news. But if we're waiting for the 34% to 40% of America that backs Donald Trump to come to its senses, the news makes that less likely, not more. Imagine being a Fox-watching, Limbaugh-listening, Breitbart-reading conservative and learning about this:
Paul J. Manafort was in bed early one morning in July when federal agents bearing a search warrant picked the lock on his front door and raided his Virginia home....

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, then followed the house search with a warning: His prosecutors told Mr. Manafort they planned to indict him, said two people close to the investigation.

The moves against Mr. Manafort are just a glimpse of the aggressive tactics used by Mr. Mueller and his team of prosecutors....

“They are setting a tone. It’s important early on to strike terror in the hearts of people in Washington, or else you will be rolled,” said Solomon L. Wisenberg, who was deputy independent counsel in the investigation that led to the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999....

“They seem to be pursuing this more aggressively, taking a much harder line, than you’d expect to see in a typical white-collar case,” said Jimmy Gurulé, a Notre Dame law professor and former federal prosecutor. “This is more consistent with how you’d go after an organized crime syndicate.”
If you're a Trumper, this (plus the leak of this) confirms everything you've ever believed about the ruthlessness of the "deep state" campaign to take down Trump. Even many Republicans -- yes, Roger Stone excepted -- eventually acknowledged that Richard Nixon was unfit to be president. The Trumpers, by contrast, will never come around. Certainly not after this.

They already believe that they were right about wiretapping, even though it was Manafort, not Trump, who was the target of a FISA wiretap warrant. I'm sure they'll never believe the timing of the Manafort wiretap warrant's renewal was anything but suspicious:
US investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election, sources tell CNN....

The government snooping continued into early this year, including a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Donald Trump....

A secret order authorized by the court that handles the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) began after Manafort became the subject of an FBI investigation that began in 2014. It centered on work done by a group of Washington consulting firms for Ukraine's former ruling party, the sources told CNN.

The surveillance was discontinued at some point last year for lack of evidence, according to one of the sources.
The FBI then restarted the surveillance after obtaining a new FISA warrant that extended at least into early this year.
It was reinstated during the year when Manafort ran the Trump campaign for a few months, and it continued after Trump was elected? No Trumper is ever going to believe that that was anything other than Obama vindictiveness against Trump.

Trump's fan base, of course, has already claimed vindication:

Richard Nixon resigned in the summer of 1974. Throughout that year, he had job approval ratings in the mid- to high 20s, according to Gallup. Shortly before he left office, he was at 24% approval. In the fall of 2008, George W. Bush had job approval ratings in the 20s, according to most polls; some showed his disapproval rating in the 70s.

I don't think Trump will ever go that low, even if he's impeached and convicted. Not even Charlottesville could push him past a Gallup floor of 34% approval; he's mostly been at 36% to 38% for the past several months. I think he'll leave office right about there. For about a third of the country, he'll remain a hero, in a way Nixon never was (except to Roger Stone) after Watergate, and in a way Bush wasn't by 2008. America is going to be living with Trump cultists for the foreseeable future.

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