Monday, December 18, 2017


I believed this for a while, and I still think it might be true:
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) said Friday that "rumors" on Capitol Hill suggest President Trump could fire special counsel Robert Mueller before Christmas, after Congress leaves Washington for the winter recess.

“The rumor on the Hill when I left yesterday was that the president was going to make a significant speech at the end of next week. And on Dec. 22, when we are out of D.C., he was going to fire Robert Mueller," Speier told California's KQED News.
There are already plans for immediate demonstrations across America and in szome foreign countries if Trump fires Mueller. (I sure wish there'd been that level of outrage and organization in response to the tax bill.)

Trump now says he doesn't intend to fire Mueller. Is he telling the truth? I'm usually a cynic, but I think he is. This CNN story suggests why Trump might not try to obstruct justice this way:
... in recent weeks, Trump has privately seemed less frustrated about the investigation, according to multiple sources who have spoken with the President.

... Trump is boasting to friends and advisers that he expects Mueller to clear him of wrongdoing in the coming weeks, according to sources familiar with the conversations. The President seems so convinced of his impending exoneration that he is telling associates Mueller will soon write a letter clearing him that Trump can brandish to Washington and the world in a bid to finally emerge from the cloud of suspicion that has loomed over the first chapter of his presidency, the sources said.

... "The President's mantra is 'All this Russia stuff, it's all going to wrap up soon.' He repeats it as fact," said one source who speaks to Trump. "Part of me is like -- 'Are you serious? You believe this?'"
The story is based on interviews with quite a few sources, many of whom are baffled by the president's expectations.

It's surprising because Fox News and the rest of the right-wing media, along with many Republicans, are doing their best to rile up the GOP base -- and the president:
Fox News host Jesse Watters suggested that the FBI investigation into whether Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election has maybe transformed into a “coup” against President Donald trump. Before a segment in which Watters interviewed Kellyanne Conway with the chyron, “A COUP IN AMERICA?” the Fox News host went on a rant about what he described as “smoking gun evidence” that the FBI agents investigating Trump are biased against the president.
Fox Host Jeanine Pirro is ratcheting up the rhetoric against special counsel Robert Mueller, after comments she made last week saying the FBI needed to be "cleansed" with offended agents being taken out "in cuffs."

Pirro criticized FBI Agent Peter Strzok....

She said Strzok was a "student" of Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who she called the "consigliere" of the FBI's "crime family."
This should be making Trump furious. So if the CNN story is correct, why is Trump optimistic?

According to CNN, one of Trump's lawyers, Ty Cobb, continues to whisper soothing words into Trump's ear.
Cobb insists the investigation is winding down and has said he expects the part of the probe that is scrutinizing the President and the White House will come to a close early next year....

Privately, Cobb has sought to assuage Trump and White House staffers by touting his connections to Mueller and members of his team, whom he has known in Washington for years, sources familiar with the matter said. He also cites his familiarity with the thousands of documents the White House has provided to Mueller's investigators, the sources said.

But Cobb's timeline predicting the end of Mueller's focus on the White House has repeatedly shifted. First, he said the investigation would end by Thanksgiving. Then, he said it would wrap up by the end of the year. Now, he's predicting early next year.
When "early next year" doesn't pan out, I assume Cobb's plan is to change it to "by spring." He seems to believe that Trump will continue to be mollified by this happy talk. I think he could be right.

Are the Cobb and Fox approaches intended to be a good cop/bad cop strategy? Or are they working at cross purposes?

I don't think Cobb would bother to mollify the president if he didn't fear that a crisis would result from Mueller's dismissal. I think his fears are unfounded -- sure, there'd be demonstrations, but the right would denounce them as left-wing rabble-rousing aimed at a coup. Republicans in Congress would wring their hands and do nothing. Maybe Trump's poll numbers would drop a few points further. However, Trump would probably get away with it.

But as long as Cobb and others in Trump's circle believe there'd be serious consequences from a Mueller dismissal, Cobb will try to lower Trump's blood pressure this way. I think it's a battle for Trump's brain, and because Trump is an ill-informed sinmpleton, Cobb is winning.

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