Trump Launches Unhinged Attack On Robert Mueller And The Russia Investigation

Another morning, and another unhinged Twitter attack on the Mueller investigation by a President who claims the entire investigation is a "hoax" and "Fake News."

In yet another morning Tweetstorm, President Trump took his most direct attack yet on Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the Russia investigation:

WASHINGTON — President Trump called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday to end the special counsel investigation, an extraordinary appeal to the nation’s top law enforcement official to end an inquiry directly into the president.

The order immediately raised questions from some lawyers about whether it was an attempt to obstruct justice. The special counsel, appointed last year to oversee the government’s Russia investigation, is already looking into some of the president’s previous Twitter posts and public statements to determine whether they were intended to obstruct the inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and any ties to the Trump campaign.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers quickly moved to contain the fallout, saying it was not an order to a member of his cabinet, but merely an opinion. An hour and a half after the tweet was posted, Mr. Trump’s lawyers contacted a reporter for The New York Times. In a subsequent telephone conversation, one of his lawyers, Rudolph W. Giuliani, dismissed the obstruction of justice concerns, calling it a “bizarre and novel theory of obstruction by tweet,” adding that it was “idiotic.”

Presidents typically do not weigh in on active Justice Department investigations, but Mr. Trump has been outspoken about his anger and frustration with the Russia inquiry. Mr. Trump has also said that he never would have made Mr. Sessions his attorney general if he had known Mr. Sessions would recuse himself from the inquiry.

The Justice Department declined to comment.

Mr. Sessions recused himself in early 2017 in part to avoid the kind of conflicts Mr. Trump proposed. Later, the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, was appointed to carry out the inquiry.

The president’s lawyers, Jay A. Sekulow and Mr. Giuliani, said in a telephone interview that Mr. Trump was not ordering the inquiry closed but simply expressing his opinion.

“It’s not a call to action,” Mr. Giuliani said, adding that it was a sentiment that Mr. Trump and his lawyers had previously expressed publicly and that it was a statement protected by the president’s constitutional right to free speech.

“He doesn’t feel that he has to intervene in the process, nor is he intervening,” Mr. Sekulow said.

The president wanted the legal process to play out, his lawyers said. “He’s expressing his opinion, but he’s not talking of his special powers he has” as president, Mr. Giuliani said.


Urging Mr. Sessions to end the inquiry was unprecedented and amounted to Mr. Trump asking Mr. Sessions to “subvert the law,” said Matthew S. Axelrod, a longtime prosecutor who served in top roles in the Obama Justice Department.

“What he’s saying here is that there’s no one who ought to be able to investigate his actions and, if necessary, hold him accountable for those actions,” Mr. Axelrod said.

Mr. Axelrod said this request of Mr. Sessions was part of a larger pattern — one in which Mr. Trump attacked the integrity of the special counsel, attacked the press and attacked the courts, “all institutions designed to provide checks on executive authority and executive overreach,” he said.

Mr. Trump gave the directive in a series of Twitter posts hitting familiar notes in his objections to the investigation and accusing an investigator of being “out to STOP THE ELECTION OF DONALD TRUMP.” Some of his messages contained quotations the president attributed to a staunch supporter, the lawyer Alan Dershowitz.

Mr. Mueller and his team are also looking into whether some of Mr. Trump’s tweets about Mr. Sessions and the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey were intended to obstruct the inquiry.

Here are Trump’s tweets:

What some are taking as a demand directed at Sessions is, of course, largely ineffective. Since Sessions recused himself from any involvement in the Russia investigation months before Mueller was appointed, he does not have the authority under relevant Justice Department regulations to fire Mueller or to involve himself in the Russia investigation in any respect. The only person who has the authority to fire Mueller, or limit his investigation is Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who is the one who brought Mueller on board as Special Counsel in the wake of the President’s decision to fire F.B.I. Director James Comey and the President’s admission just days after that decision that he did so because of the Russia investigation. Rosenstein, however, has made it clear in public statements and in testimony before Congress that he has seen no evidence that the Special Counsel has overstepped his bounds or that the investigation has gone off the rails. Further evidence of Rosenstein’s position and support for the ongoing investigation can be seen in the fact that it has been his office rather than Mueller’s that has announced the major indictments in this case, specifically including the indictment of more than a dozen Russians back in March and the indictment of a dozen Russian intelligence officials that was handed down just days before the President’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. With both his testimony and these actions, Rosenstein has made clear that he would resist any effort by the President to pressure him to fire Mueller or otherwise bring an end to the investigation, thus leaving Trump with the politically risky option of having to fire Rosenstein in order to get to Mueller. As even several Republicans have noted in the past, any action like this would only make it seem more apparent that the President’s efforts to undermine Mueller and his investigation has some sort of sinister motive behind it.

This latest screed comes just days after The New York Times reported that Mueller and his team were looking at the President’s tweets and other public statements as part of their broader investigation into whether or not the President and those around him have engaged in an effort to obstruct justice by seeking to impede the Russia investigation either before or after Mueller was appointed as Special Counsel. As I said at the time, given the frequency with which the President has used both forms of communication to attack the investigation, it isn’t at all surprising that Mueller’s team would look into these messages if only to put other statements and actions by the President and his Administration into a context that could potentially be cited as circumstantial evidence of intent or motive in an eventual argument regarding obstruction whether that were to happen before Congress as part of an impeachment inquiry or in a court of law as part of a case being made, if not against the President directly, then perhaps against those around him who may have been involved in an effort to obstruct justice.

By themselves, the President’s tweet would most likely not be sufficient to prove obstruction of justice or any other potential charge that the Special Counsel’s office might eventually bring. Taken together with other actions that the President has taken during the eighteen months that he’s been in office, though, they could potentially be powerful corroboration of an overall corrupt intent behind actions that, by themselves, may not appear to be connected. Among these actions, of course, are the President’s decision to fire F.B.I. Director Comey, his previous discussions with Comey about taking it easy on former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and his apparent requests that Comey publicly state that the Burea was not investigating the President himself. This is especially true when you take into consideration the many, many times in which the President has denounced the Russia investigation as a “witch hunt,” attacked Mueller and his investigators, attacked his own Attorney General, attacked the Department of Justice and the F.B.I. in what is obviously an effort to undermine the Russia investigation, and made claims about the ongoing investigation that are quite simply not true. The President’s Twitter feed is replete with numerous instances in which he was using that method of communication to promote those attacks. Today’s tweetstorm is just the latest example of that.

So, while Trump’s tweets on their own may not prove an obstruction case they can arguably be used to place certain of the President’s actions into a context that, at the very least, certainly looks like it could constitute obstruction. Indeed, at some point, one has to wonder what the President’s obvious efforts to undermine the Russia investigation are all about if they aren’t an effort to obstruct Justice. While the President is entitled to the same presumption of innocence that any other actual or potential criminal defendant is entitled to, it’s also the case that his behavior so far is not the behavior you would expect from someone who didn’t have something to hide, whether it was something about his campaign’s collusion with Russian officials to gather information on Hillary Clinton or something about his personal or business affairs. In some sense, then, it’s not dissimilar from a criminal defendant who flees from police. If you Trump has nothing to hide, then why is he acting so much like a person who has something to hide? It seems as though Robert Mueller is asking the same question, and Trump’s Twitter feed is only feeding that suspicion.

FILED UNDER: National Security, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. SenyorDave says:

    I’m thinking that Trump is getting VERY SCARED. Trump has never really had to answer for his behavior his entire life. He has basically skated on things that would have all but destroyed other people. In business he has made a career of scamming people, cheating suppliers and contractors and leaving other people holding the bag. Somehow, his personal life is actually as bad if not worse than his professional life. A serial adulterer (points for cheating on his wife while she was nursing their infant son) who admitted on tape to molesting women. But he’s always avoided any major consequences.

    But Trump made a fatal mistake. He ran for POTUS and won. He figured he would lose in a close election, start Trump TV and have 24/7 platform for crooked Hillary, the Deep State and various paranoid fantasies.

    It is similar to the plot of The Producers. After all, nobody looks into the finances of a failed Broadway show. Likewise, nobody cares too much about the dealings of a failed presidential candidate. But once Trump made the mistake of winning, he was exposed. The possible money laundering, the Russian meetings, the crooked charity (that isn’t really debatable, Trump’s people have pretty much admitted that he was self-dealing, it sounds like the only question is whether there will be criminal charges in addition to civil penalties). Trump ran his campaign like he ran his businesses – a complete disregard for laws and ethics.

    Hopefully Trump will get his just deserts. I’m guessing life isn’t much fun for him these days.

  2. Lounsbury says:

    @SenyorDave: This is likely spot on.

  3. Michael Reynolds says:

    Yep. He’s skeeeered! He’s skeeeered real bad.

    If he wasn’t such an utter POS I’d have some sympathy having been in similar straits for two decades. Fortunately, he is an utter POS so I am absolved and can sit back and enjoy watching him fear-sht like an overexcited dog.

  4. Modulo Myself says:

    He’s scared. But he’s the Republican Party right now. In Trump world the hoax does not stop at Mueller and CNN. Supposedly at the end of Watergate the military was told by somebody to ignore orders from Nixon. In Trump world that’s the Deep State in action. My hunch is that as guilty as he is this ends way differently than Watergate.

  5. Kathy says:


    I’m guessing life isn’t much fun for him these days.

    Three is some comfort in knowing such a toxic little troll spends much of his time in anger, fear, and frustration.

    His only escape seems to be the incessant, vacuous gatherings he calls rallies. It’s like a drug for an addict. But even then he spends much time being angry. And the fear never really goes away.

  6. gVOR08 says:

    The tweets don’t prove guilt, but would they not speak to motive and consciousness of guilt?

    Also, Sessions can’t fire Mueller. Can Sessions not fire Rosenstein, clearing the way for the Solicitor General, Noel Francisco, to perhaps fire Mueller? Assuming Francisco is more willing to face an obstruction charge than Sessions appears to be. Trouble with a capital T, and that rhymes with B, and that stands for Bork.

  7. James Pearce says:

    Bob Mueller is totally conflicted

    That sounds very…..”official.”

    And Trump quoted Marc Thiessen without mentioning that the Washington Post is “failing.” (Wait…did I use the wrong epithet? The Post is “failing,” right, and not “fat” or “ugly?”)

    And scared? This sounds like a guy who is very confident that if he succeeds in damaging the integrity of the investigation, he will have gotten away with it.

  8. Gustopher says:

    From our esteemed President’s twitstorm:

    He should never, ever been allowed to remain in the FBI while he himself was being investigated. This is a real issue.” ALAN DERSHOWITZ….

    I am willing to concede this point in the President’s favor if he and his entire administration will to step aside for the duration of the investigation. The government can run on autopilot, thanks to the efforts of the Deep State.

  9. teve tory says:

    Seen online:

    1. It’s a total lie, never happened, fake news.
    2. It happened, but it’s not a big deal.
    3. Ok, it might be a big deal, but it isn’t illegal.
    4. Okay it’s illegal, but Hillary and Obama something something, so it’s ok.
    5. Get over it Libtard, you’re just a sore loser!”

  10. Gustopher says:

    The most powerful man in the world who pays for sex tweeted:

    Strzok and his lover, the lovely Lisa Page

    I assume that one of the things that makes Lisa Page so lovely is that she has not charged Strzok hundreds of thousands of dollars.

  11. Kathy says:

    While the DOJ may hold the position that Trump can’t be indicted while in office, and while impeachment and removal are largely a matter of (un)popularity, it’s perfectly possible to indict the Cheeto once he leaves office in January 2021.

    I don’t expect this to happen. After all, a Democratic president in 2021 would be wiser to tell Trump “One Tweet out of you, just one, and you’ll die in prison. Now go away.”

  12. Gustopher says:

    Someday, there is going to be a biopic of all of this, with Gary Busey in the role of President Trump, sitting on the toilet in the early hours of the morning, feverishly tapping at his smartphone, grunting out the text of these tweets between the sounds of shitting…

    It will be an Oscar worthy performance.

    I’m thinking Busey will be the only person ever shown on camera, and that the entire presidency can be captured through tweets, eventually culminating in him leaving the bathroom (or keeling over dead on the toilet, whichever happens in real life).

  13. Lounsbury says:

    @Michael Reynolds: for 2 decades? or 2 decades ago? Not that this matters, but an odd and confusing phrasing.

  14. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Careful Bunge…You don’t want to be kissing his ass when he shits his pants!!!

  15. teve tory says:

    GOP in the Senate just voted down $250 million to enhance election security. Vote was 50-47.

    One republican voted for it.

  16. CSK says:


    Well, exactly. I’ve been saying the same thing all along. Trump never expected to win, so he never anticipated that anyone would excavate the slim recesses of his past. The campaign, for him, was an exercise in branding.

    And I think that life is even less fun for those around Trump, who are bearing the brunt of his insane rage and frustration.

  17. JohnMcC says:

    Sigh. Think how many times this headline and virtually identical story has been/will be repeated!

    Bigger sigh. Think that millions of our fellow Americans believe every word.

    We are so screwed.

  18. Michael Reynolds says:

    Sorry, I try to avoid repeating the same stories. I was a fugitive for 22 years, (burglaries of businesses) ending about 20 years ago when I made everything go away. So, I understand being afraid. What I don’t understand is being so weak about it. Trump is cracking and he hasn’t hit the two year mark, and he’s allegedly rich. My contempt for him comes from having handled the fear 10 times longer, and stone broke most of that time.

  19. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Whatever you did, you were a grown-up. An adult. Trump has never been anything but a toddler. He never evolved beyond “the terrible twos.”

  20. teve tory says:

    I’m not sure we’re screwed. Yes, Trump showed that millions of americans are dumb assholes who’ll vote the country down the drain to punish people they’re jealous or afraid of. Trump’s dumb and incompetent so he’s not proving to be too destructive (Destructive, yes, just not maximally so). It’s easy to imagine a clever schemer imitating Trump and getting power, but since Trump’s probably a goner in 2020, the Second Trump would have to wait til 2024 or more likely 2028. The GOP/FoxGeezers/Angry Uneducated Rural Whites demographic has been shrinking for years and will have shrunk much further by then, and the GOP hasn’t pulled a popular vote win in 14 years already–and only once in 30 years. So the Second Trump has a much tougher row to hoe.

  21. teve tory says:

    Donald J. Trump

    Verified account

    Follow Follow @realDonaldTrump
    ..This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further. Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to USA!

    6:24 AM – 1 Aug 2018

    My favorite reply to this tweet:

    squirt squirt

    Follow Follow @snacksare
    Replying to @realDonaldTrump
    So I guess you realize you are getting lit up for obstruction so you are just going for it?

    11:51 AM – 1 Aug 2018

  22. Kathy says:


    I’ve been saying the same thing all along. Trump never expected to win, so he never anticipated that anyone would excavate the slim recesses of his past.

    I’m not so sure about that any more. In fact, it looks like what I mean when I say that a narrative is always more convincing than an argument.

    Consider, if he had lost, then Comey would have carried on his investigation into the Russian attacks on the 2016 election, and wouldn’t have been restrained by having one of the principal suspects occupying a high office. Which BTW would also have meant a faster investigation.

    Therefore if Mangolini didn’t count on winning, he either would not have dared commit a crime, or would have been so clueless as to not know he was getting in really deep. Flip a coin and choose 😉

    If he had counted on winning, then he may have thought that once in office he could order any investigation shut down. But that’s still a hell of a risk to run on highly uncertain events.

    Most likely, IMO, he’s just like most other criminals: terminally stupid and incompetent. Specifically like most rich criminals: terminally stupid and incompetent, and convinced his money will get him out of any trouble.

  23. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: How did you make everything go away? That’s the part of the story I don’t recall you repeating a dozen times (a dozen times when it was appropriate or you were asked). Is it an inspiring story of a man unscrewing the pooch, a matter of facing consequences and then getting on with life, or just “and then the statute of limitations ran out”?

  24. CSK says:


    True about the incompetence of rich criminal morons…but say he did expect to win–and I don’t think he did. He was still so abysmally pig-ignorant of what being president entailed that he assumed he could run it the same way he ran all his crappy failed businesses: lying, stiffing contractors, abusing the eminent domain laws, appointing incompetent family members as principal advisors, laundering Russian mob money.

  25. Gustopher says:

    @JohnMcC: It does get repetitive, but I do like the constant reminder that Donald Trump is not enjoying his presidency — it doesn’t make things like the children in cages any better, but it’s something. It would be more obscene if he was able to enjoy himself doing it (see Stephen Miller).

    That said, I don’t really know what to do with these constant twitstorms that interrupt our lives, other than point and laugh. They’re barely relevant to anything.

  26. Kylopod says:


    It is similar to the plot of The Producers.

    Did you catch the skit by Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick making this very point?

    What’s interesting is that this skit came out in Feb. 2016, not only before Trump had won the nomination but at a time when the overwhelming conventional wisdom was that if he reached the general election, he would inevitably lose.

    The site TV Tropes has actually used the term “Springtime for Hitler gambit” to describe any scam in which you deliberately set out to lose–though the idea in fact predates the Mel Brooks film. (For example, the book and movie The Mouse that Roared, both of which came out in the 1950s, is about a bankrupted nation that declares war on the US so that they can lose and be rebuilt like Germany and Japan.)

  27. Kathy says:


    He was still so abysmally pig-ignorant

    “Was”? 🙂

    Another hypothesis is that he’s afraid Jr. or his son in law will be indicted and convicted, if only because that would reflect badly on him. But I don’t think he’d be so shrill if that were the case.

  28. CSK says:


    I don’t think he’d hesitate in the least to throw Jared to the wolves. A) Jared isn’t one of the family, and B) Jared gets to boink Ivanka, which is something Trump has pretty much admitted he’d love to do. I refer you to the Wendy Williams interview with Trump and Ivanka, when Williams asked Trump what he and Ivanka had in common. He replied: “I’d like to say sex.”

    As for Don, Jr? If the going got really tough, yes, he’d toss the kid under the bus, too.

  29. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Pearce: I take it you’ve never heard of “bravado?”
    (I promise I will not feed the troll again this thread.)

  30. Hal_10000 says:


    Yes, exactly this. Trump is rich and, being rich, has been able to get away with a lot of things. But now he’s caught people’s attention and all the stuff he’s being for decades is under scrutiny.

    As Ken White pointed out, poor people are used to the justice system being arbitrary and prosecutors/cops having immense power over them. But rich people, being used to the system working for them and with their knowledge of the system coming from TV, are shocked when they find it to be arbitrary and capricious. And so they think they are being unfairly targeted.

  31. MBunge says:

    Soooooo…the Paul Manafort trial just completed day 2. Just thought everyone would like to know, since it’s apparently no longer worth blogging about around here. Funny, isn’t it?


  32. Michael Reynolds says:

    Oh, that’s simple: I went from poor to wealthy. I threw a bunch of money at a bunch of lawyers. And the only witness they had was way out of state. So they just kind of shrugged and went, “Yeah, OK, carry on.”

  33. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: An inspiring story. Thanks.

  34. Mister Bluster says:

    Manafort Trial Update…It’s a laugh a minute!

    “Those selected as jurors, I hope you will not hurry to slit your wrists. There’s a positive side,” Ellis joked near the end of the morning session, noting that the people picked to serve would get a free lunch every day.
    U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III

  35. Mister Bluster says:

    Maybe Harvard Law can help us with this:

    “I’m hopeful that we can finish this case much, much sooner than anyone expected,” Ellis said at the conclusion of the day’s session.

    “We are on track to do that,” prosecutor Greg Andres said.

    “There may be a slip between the cup and the lip between now and then,” the judge observed.

  36. Mikey says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    “There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip is a very old proverb, similar in meaning to “don’t count your chickens before they hatch”. It implies that even when a good outcome or conclusion seems certain, things can still go wrong. “

  37. MarkedMan says:

    I’ve seen it reported in a number of places that Trump really wants the meeting with Mueller because he’s positive he can convince the special prosecutor that it is all a misunderstanding using his l33t Negotiating Skilz (TM). I’m curious to hear what the OTB commentariat think of this story. I see three possibilities:
    1) Trump really believes this. He was never the sharpest crayon in the box and age, long term mental illness and possibly prescription drug abuse has degraded his thought process to the point that he really believes this. I give this a 5% chance.
    2) Trump would rather walk through burning coals (or eat vegetables) than testify under oath. However, he thinks it is a super clever ploy to spread the word that he really, really, really wants to testify but his mean ol’ lawyers won’t let him. I give this an 85% chance.
    3) Something else. 5% chance.


  38. Kathy says:

    What Mueller should do is present this to El Cheeto as a summit. He can have his hollow fake-victory press conference afterwards, too. Only this time after getting played he’ll face real consequences.

  39. grumpy realist says:

    @MarkedMan: Bluffing + mad seecrit skillz belief.

    About the only technique Trump has is to a) bluff, or, well, b) bluff. (I was going to write “threaten with a lawsuit, but I realised this falls in category 1.) Oh, and act like a chaos generator in hopes that the other side will get so bewildered and fed up with the situation that said other side will go away.

    Once you see it, it’s really easy to guard against, which is why Trump gets taped by his lawyers and he gets played by people like Kim Jong Un. The guy has the actual negotiating skills of a lobotomised clam.

  40. Pete S says:

    @MarkedMan: I think your weighting for option 1 is way too low. Trump has been talking his way out of things his whole life and probably truly believes if he can just get an hour in a room with Mueller he can outfox him the way he did with Putin and Kim.

    For what its worth I imagine Trump’s lawyers agree with him that he would be just as successful talking to Mueller as he was talking to Putin and Kim, and that is why they are fighting against it so hard.

  41. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:


    Just thought everyone would like to know

    Given that you post incipid, factually incorrect, comments everyday and then just run away without showing the spine to respond to even the most basic of criticism…why don’t you just go read the blogs that program exactly what you want? Dennison fanboi love letters.

  42. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Lava Land:

    Carry on, we got this

    You’re a big fan of the WWE, aren’t you?
    But see, the WWE is fixed. The outcomes are pre-determined. Like when your idol Donnie Dennison beat that guy up…totally fake. (I know you won”t believe that.)
    This is the real world. Mueller is not an actor on Linda McMahon’s (Dennison’s Admin. of the SBA) payroll.
    There is enough evidence already in public view to charge Dennison with Conspiracy and Obstruction.
    So I’m glad you think you got this, ’cause you don’t.
    Oh yeah…and the other thing…you’re a traitor to your country you red-hat-wearing dupe.

  43. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Lava Land:

    well since you know nothing about me and have such name calling super smart abilities, have a nice day. Nasty….

    I know, from your comments, that you have a hard time with reality.
    You support a traitor, therefore you are a traitor.
    And as a supporter, I’ll just bet you have one of those smart red hats that are made in China.

  44. Mister Bluster says:

    @Mikey:..things can still go wrong.

    Thank you.
    I must confess that as soon as I hit

    Post Comment

    I realised that I could have Googled it and not revealed my plebian ignorance to the savant’s of OTB.
    A testament to the truth of the proverb?

  45. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: I’m way more open to #1 than you are. I think he believes himself to be the smartest guy in any room he walks into. I’ll give it a 50% chance. I’m also good with #2, but that strikes me as requiring more thinking than he’s likely to give to any issue (being the smartest guy in the room and all), so 40% for that.

    And something else is always a 10% or so chance.