The President and Mr. Mueller

What follows is a note I wrote in mid-July, 2017.  As I say at its conclusion:  “Opinions are easy; we’ll see what’s borne out”; but if there is evidence that implicates the President and/or his close associates in wrong doing, a graceful withdrawal seems a less available path now than it may have been then …

As all are aware, A.G. Sessions has been under increasing pressure from the President, in large part due to Mr. Sessions’ decision to recuse himself (undisputedly in accord with DOJ rules and procedures) from the Russia investigation.  It’s hard to contest that the President’s irritation with Mr. Sessions arises from the President’s belief that Mr. Sessions could have controlled the Russia investigation, and his concern that Mr. Mueller’s probe is, from the President’s point of view, expanding in an unacceptable manner.

As perhaps all are aware, if the President was to get rid of Mr. Sessions, get rid of Mr. Rosenstein (the Assistant A.G. that appointed Mr. Mueller), and then fire Mr. Mueller, a number of legislators of both parties have indicated that Congress would reinstitute a Special Counsel law, place Mr. Mueller in that role, and have him proceed.  I had wondered whether there was actually sufficient support to bring that about.  What has brought the President’s predicament home to me is the fact that 7 Republican senators – Barrasso, Hatch, Grassley, Graham, Shelby, Tillis, and one on the video I didn’t recognize – went on record yesterday as supporting Mr. Sessions.  Together with 48 Democrats, that’s but 5 short of overcoming any attempt to filibuster the bill.  It is hard for me to believe that those five votes couldn’t be gathered from Sens. McCain (if he’s around – VERY sad), Burr, “Never Trumpers” Flake and Sasse, Collins and Murkowski, “Little Marco” Rubio (what goes around comes around), and Paul.  Sen. McConnell himself is obviously no fan of the President, and wouldn’t want to be “on the wrong side of history.”  Although the House isn’t as easily weighed, it’s pretty hard for me to believe that there wouldn’t be a sufficient number of Republicans that “wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of history” to vote with Democrats for the Special Counsel law; supporters of the measure could all claim that they weren’t voting against the President – simply voting that “the truth should come out,” or some such.

Thus, the advice:  Mr. President, you aren’t going to be able to get rid of Mr. Mueller.  If there is something illegal in your past – either with Russia, or in your other business dealings – Mueller is going to find it.  So if there is, get out now.  Those adoring crowds won’t be able to save you.  Furthermore, if the conservative media – Fox, Breitbart, Limbaugh, etc. — turns on you (there has been little discussion about the fact that the result of your departure will be Mike Pence – whom the conservatives like better than you), it will feed your base in a way that will ultimately cause it to desert you.  Make up a pretext – health, whatever – resign, and go back to the life that you clearly liked considerably better than your current life.  The appetite to continue investigation of your activities if you’re out of office – particularly while Republicans control both chambers – will be zilch.  It very likely gets both you and Don, Jr. off the hook.  Although you’ll leave dangerous loose ends behind – Flynn, for example – you have a reasonable shot of getting clear of this.  Go back to New York, start your own network that appeals to your base, whatever.  If you stay, and if there’s something to find, you’re lost …

Opinions are easy; we’ll see what’s borne out.

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