Trump Tried To Fire Robert Mueller In June

And the evidence for obstruction of justice continues to mount.

Late yesterday, The New York Times dropped a story that adds a new light to the nearly year-long effort by the Trump Administration and its supporters to undermine the investigation into Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election and any contacts between President Trump or his associates and people with ties to the Russian government. Specifically, Times reporters Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt reported that the President ordered special counsel Robert Mueller to be fired, only to be thwarted in that effort when his own White House Counsel said he would quit rather than carrying out the President’s orders:

WASHINGTON — President Trump ordered the firing last June of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation, according to four people told of the matter, but ultimately backed down after the White House counsel threatened to resign rather than carry out the directive.

The West Wing confrontation marks the first time Mr. Trump is known to have tried to fire the special counsel. Mr. Mueller learned about the episode in recent months as his investigators interviewed current and former senior White House officials in his inquiry into whether the president obstructed justice.

Amid the first wave of news media reports that Mr. Mueller was examining a possible obstruction case, the president began to argue that Mr. Mueller had three conflicts of interest that disqualified him from overseeing the investigation, two of the people said.

First, he claimed that a dispute years ago over fees at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va., had prompted Mr. Mueller, the F.B.I. director at the time, to resign his membership. The president also said Mr. Mueller could not be impartial because he had most recently worked for the law firm that previously represented the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Finally, the president said, Mr. Mueller had been interviewed to return as the F.B.I. director the day before he was appointed special counsel in May.

After receiving the president’s order to fire Mr. Mueller, the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, refused to ask the Justice Department to dismiss the special counsel, saying he would quit instead, the people said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing a continuing investigation.

Mr. McGahn disagreed with the president’s case and told senior White House officials that firing Mr. Mueller would have a catastrophic effect on Mr. Trump’s presidency. Mr. McGahn also told White House officials that Mr. Trump would not follow through on the dismissal on his own. The president then backed off.

The president dismissed the revelations on Friday, when asked about them by reporters as he arrived at the Congress Center in Davos, Switzerland, for meetings with world political and business leaders.

“Fake news, folks,” Mr. Trump said. “Fake news. A typical New York Times fake story.”

Ty Cobb, who manages the White House’s relationship with Mr. Mueller’s office, said in a statement, “We decline to comment out of respect for the Office of the Special Counsel and its process.”

Mr. McGahn, a longtime Republican campaign finance lawyer in Washington who served on the Federal Election Commission, was the top lawyer on Mr. Trump’s campaign. He has been involved in nearly every key decision Mr. Trump has made — like the firing of the former F.B.I. director — that is being scrutinized by Mr. Mueller.

Mr. McGahn was also concerned that firing the special counsel would incite more questions about whether the White House was trying to obstruct the Russia investigation.

Around the time Mr. Trump wanted to fire Mr. Mueller, the president’s legal team, led then by his longtime personal lawyer in New York, Marc E. Kasowitz, was taking an adversarial approach to the Russia investigation. The president’s lawyers were digging into potential conflict-of-interest issues for Mr. Mueller and his team, according to current and former White House officials, and news media reports revealed that several of Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors had donated to Democrats.

(…)

Another option that Mr. Trump considered in discussions with his advisers was dismissing the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, and elevating the Justice Department’s No. 3 official, Rachel Brand, to oversee Mr. Mueller. Mr. Rosenstein has overseen the investigation since March, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself.

Mr. Trump has significantly ratcheted back his criticisms of Mr. Mueller since he hired Mr. Cobb for his legal team in July. A veteran of several high-profile Washington controversies, Mr. Cobb has known Mr. Mueller for decades, dating to their early careers in the Justice Department.

He advised Mr. Trump that he had nothing to gain from combat with Mr. Mueller, a highly respected former prosecutor and F.B.I. director who has subpoena power as special counsel. Since Mr. Cobb’s arrival, the White House has operated on the premise that the quickest way to clear the cloud of suspicion was to cooperate with Mr. Mueller, not to fight him.

He advised Mr. Trump that he had nothing to gain from combat with Mr. Mueller, a highly respected former prosecutor and F.B.I. director who has subpoena power as special counsel. Since Mr. Cobb’s arrival, the White House has operated on the premise that the quickest way to clear the cloud of suspicion was to cooperate with Mr. Mueller, not to fight him.

Nonetheless, Mr. Trump has wavered for months about whether he wants to fire Mr. Mueller, which is an omnipresent concern among the president’s legal team and close aides. The White House has denied nearly a dozen times since June that Mr. Trump was considering firing Mr. Mueller. The president’s lawyers, including Mr. Cobb, have tried to keep Mr. Trump calm by assuring him for months, amid new revelations about the inquiry, that it is close to ending.

As noted, this morning the President predictably dismissed the reports as “fake news,” but it’s worth noting that Haberman and Schmidt have no less than four separate sources with knowledge of the events in question verifying the report and that their reporting has been independently confirmed by numerous other news organizations. This includes The Washington Post, NBC News, CNN, and even Fox News Channel, a confirmation that led to a rather amusing on-air reversal by Sean Hannity in the middle of last night’s show. Additionally, the statement released by Trump’s personal attorney Ty Cobb is effectively a ‘no comment’ that does not deny the truth of the allegations. In addition to Trump’s “fake news” comments, many Trump supporters have spent the time since the report first dropped last night dismissing the report by arguing that even if the allegation is taken as true, it merely states that Trump tried to fire Mueller only to be rebuffed by his White House Counsel. The problem with that explanation, though, is that it really doesn’t get to the core of what Trump did, and it completely ignores the reality that, as noted above, it is entirely consistent with previous actions and statements that have come from the President and his Administration that show a clear intention to undermine the Russia investigation. Additionally, the reports contradict what the President and several members of the Administration have said in public when they said that he had never even considered firing Mueller.

No doubt, this will prove to be of interest to Mueller and his team of investigators as well as the panels in the House and Senate investigating the Russia matter. As Aaron Blake notes, this adds further fuel to the theory that the President has engaged in what amounts to obstruction of justice, but of course, it is hardly the first such piece of evidence in this regard. In early February of last year, just a day after former National Security Adivser Michael Flynn due to the fact that he had lied to the transition team and Vice-President Pence about the nature of his contacts with the Russian Ambassador, Trump asked F.B.I. Director James Comey if he could end the investigation of Flynn. Around the same time, Trump asked Comey for his personal loyalty in a White House meeting that made Comey uncomfortable enough to begin memorializing his conversations with the President in writing. Later, Trump fired Comey abruptly just days after he had testified about the investigation into Russia and the Trump campaign before a Senate committee. As we know now, Trump later openly admitted that he took that later action specifically because of the Russia investigation. It’s also been reported that Trump  contacted the heads of the intelligence agencies and leaned on them to bring the investigation to the end and perhaps even to influence their potential testimony to Congress and, more specifically, to state that Trump and his campaign did not collude with Russia or Russian officials in connection with the election. Additionally, Trump himself was directly involved in the drafting of a statement released by the White House related to the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and other Trump campaign officials and a lawyer with ties to the Russian government that was initially sold to Trump Jr. as being for the purpose of passing along damaging information about Hillary Clinton. That statement, of course, falsely claimed that the meeting was solely about the issue of the adoption of Russian children by American couples. It has also been reported several times in the past that the President was considering firing Robert Mueller, especially after it had been reported that Mueller had started turning his attention to issues surrounding the financial positions of the Trump and Kushner families and their ties, if any, to Russian banking and other interests. Finally, last month we learned that Trump had pressured several Republican Senators to end the investigation being conducted by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Taken together, all of this shows what looks for all the world like a clear effort on the part of Trump and his Administration to undermine the Russia investigation and, arguably, to obstruct justice. Indeed, as Politico notes, it’s now likely that Mueller believes just that:

Thursday’s explosive New York Times story that President Donald Trump ordered the firing of special counsel Robert Mueller last June renewed the public’s focus on the obstruction of justice investigation against Trump, which will soon culminate in Trump’s interview by Mueller. The case against Trump has grown stronger in recent months, and it now appears likely that Mueller will conclude that Trump obstructed justice.

(…)

All of this, taken together, greatly strengthens the case that Trump had “corrupt” intent when he fired Comey. That said, there is still a lot we don’t know. For example, according to the New York Times, Mueller has an early draft of a letter drafted by Trump aide Stephen Miller at Trump’s direction offering an unvarnished view of Trump’s thinking regarding the firing of Comey. The Times and Post also reported that McGahn expressed concerns to Trump about the letter, and the Times noted that McGahn gave Miller a marked-up copy of the letter, highlighting sections that he wanted removed.

McGahn’s advice to Trump will be crucial. Did the White House counsel tell Trump that firing Comey could put him in legal jeopardy? That would strengthen Mueller’s case. Or did McGahn express concerns only about the political fallout? That might weaken Mueller’s case, because Trump could argue that he sought his lawyer’s advice and his lawyer did not advise him that firing Comey could put him in legal jeopardy. That’s called an “advice of counsel” defense. McGahn’s advice, along with the advice of others to Trump, could be the most important evidence in the obstruction investigation.

While we don’t know all of the evidence, Thursday’s revelation suggests it is likely Mueller will conclude that Trump obstructed justice. Some conservative legal commentators have argued that Trump’s constitutional authority to fire personnel and end investigations is so vast that he cannot obstruct justice as a legal matter. Most legal scholars find that argument unpersuasive, but it is an academic point—not one that is decisive—because Mueller has pressed forward in investigating the firing of Comey as obstruction of justice and the power of Congress to impeach Trump goes beyond the text of any statute.

Even if Mueller concludes that he could prove beyond a reasonable doubt in court that Trump was guilty of obstructing justice, I believe he will ultimately present the matter to Congress for potential impeachment instead. After all, according to the New York Times, former independent counsel Kenneth Starr possessed a legal memo concluding that he had the power to indict former President Bill Clinton but did not do so, ultimately choosing to present the matter to Congress. I think Mueller would likely do the same thing, because it’s the more prudential approach given that it’s an open legal question whether a sitting president can be indicted.

As the saying goes, stay tuned.

 

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds 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. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Modulo Myself says:

    Tbh, Trump would have been better off firing Mueller then than letting him investigate. He can’t fire him now and halt the investigation because they’ll just leak what they’ve found.

    Now he’s stuck. He won’t be impeached. But this year there will probably be an election where the party in power is being led by a guy exposed as an empty conduit for very shady money. And more importantly, no one in the GOP who is running has Trump’s weird game. They will look like total idiots when they refuse to deal with the mob patsy loved by the base. The Democrats should be able to take the House and the Senate, and then they should go after the financial structure of the GOP.




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  2. CSK says:

    Cobb’s statement that he refused to comment “out of respect for the office of the special counsel” really jumped off the page at me.

    Am I overthinking this, or is that a direct put-down of Trump? Cobb could have just said “no comment.”




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  3. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Fun to watch the morning shows compile all the statements from the time claiming that Trump never even considered firing Mueller.
    Sanders has less than zero credibility.
    Fake news. Alternative facts. Indeed.




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  4. CSK says:

    Sean Hannity apparently screamed “Fake news!” and then had to backtrack bigly when Fox’s own Ed Henry said, “Uh, no, Sean. It’s true news.”




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  5. michael reynolds says:

    I feel vindicated because I always said he’d fire Mueller. So he tried but couldn’t because why? Because he’s weak and cowardly and didn’t have the spine to take action or accept responsibility. Just sayin’, I should have been paid off on my predictit.org bet. I’d be up, like, twelve dollars on that.

    Trump is guilty of multiple felonies. That’s been obvious practically from the start. No other explanation fits the facts: he acts and talks like a guilty man. So @Modulo is absolutely right that the smarter move would have been to strike before the evidence was collected. Now there’s a mountain of evidence against Trump. He could be convicted of obstruction right now, today, just on what is public.

    So once again, ex-criminal to active criminal, I offer my advice to Trump:

    1) Pardon everyone including yourself.
    2) Resign.
    3) Flee the country.

    That really is his best move now. Mueller’s got him cold. He’s got Trump, Sessions, Kushner, (possibly Ivanka), Flynn, Manafort, (probably Pence), and a cast of lower-downs all dead-to-rights on a range of felonies. It is clear that Don McGahan is leaking to the NYT in a desperate effort to minimize his complicity and cast himself as a hero in this crumbling mess of an administration, and I don’t think attorney-client privilege applies to the White House counsel who is not Trump’s lawyer but ours.

    Manafort’s mini-me, Gates, may be flipping. Flynn and Flynn Jr. have already flipped. Panagopolous is co-operating. Add in McGahan, Rosenstein, Carter Page, almost certainly Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon, and all the documentary evidence Trump’s clown college has left behind, and Trump will almost certainly be listed as an un-indicted co-conspirator, meaning (caveat: IANAL) I suspect that he can be arrested as soon as he leaves office, and would be convicted and imprisoned.

    This has gotten very, very serious for the Game Show Host In Chief. He could be less than three years away from prison. If Mueller comes out with a delayed indictment of Trump, Republicans will have three years of people doing the Countdown to Arrest – however many months before the midterms, two years after. That won’t be fun for Republicans. Fun for me, but not them.




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  6. Guarneri says:

    He was in a pique over an anti-FBI YouTube video…………




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  7. Mikey says:

    And of course along with this were the repeated lies…lie after lie, the hallmark of this disaster of a Presidency.

    8 times since June the White House denied Trump was considering firing Mueller




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  8. KM says:

    @michael reynolds:

    So once again, ex-criminal to active criminal, I offer my advice to Trump:

    1) Pardon everyone including yourself.
    2) Resign.
    3) Flee the country.

    Flee? To where? Even pardoned, he’s a political hot potato and potential target. What country wants to be the one to accept the first POTUS to run like a bitch from the law? Who wants to be on our (metaphorical) bad side, even if we’re not actively hunting for him that’s a stigma that will linger on a nation. He could live another decade or more and what a strain that would put on international relations. Plus, if he runs without SS protection (which he will), he’s GOING to get nabbed by a hostile power. ISIS, NK, KGB, first come first serve. Who’s going to take responsibility for his protection? Are we even going to trust another nation to protect an ex-President with all the national secrets in his head from getting kidnapped and waterboarded???

    The only nations on Earth who’d accept this flaming bad of dog crap on their doorstep are the ones we really, really don’t want him running to. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up needing to be dragged back to face state charges and we’ll the ignominious sight of the ex-POTUS pulling an Assange. Our national humiliation would be complete




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  9. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @KM:
    @michael reynolds:

    3) Flee the country.

    I think that, at this point, it is far more likely that Melania kills him in his sleep.




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  10. I’ve added an update to the end of the post regarding where all of this is likely leading Mueller.




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  11. SenyorDave says:

    @KM: I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up needing to be dragged back to face state charges and we’ll the ignominious sight of the ex-POTUS pulling an Assange.

    Please, please, please make it happen! Since Duerte and Trump seem to be BFF, I’d love to see Trump holed up in the Philippine embassy. I live near DC and am planning to retire in the near future. I could see going to DC once a week just to jeer that POS.

    As far as the secrets in Trump’s head, I have trouble believing there is much of anything that can be recovered that would be usable. I tend to think that Trump’s brain function is about like Homer Simpson’s. Probably a jumble of old Fox and Friends episodes, cartoons and memories of his Cabinet kissing his ass.




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  12. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    So yeah…pretty clear that there is an obstruction case to be made. It’s all academic though. Mueller probably won’t indict, and this supine Republican Congress certainly isn’t going to impeach.
    Trumps base will applaud him for being macho enough to obstruct. When all is said and done, the dumpster fire will burn on.




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  13. gVOR08 says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    I think that, at this point, it is far more likely that Melania kills him in his sleep.

    Gotta get the upvote function back.




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  14. Kathy says:

    I was convinced Shithole Trump tried to fire Mueller the moment he denied it. We know by long experience that 99 times out of a 100 he says something, it’s a lie.

    The GOP should pray every day, and twice on Sunday, there be no recession between now and November.




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  15. Franklin says:

    @KM: The only nation that comes close to avoiding your identified pitfalls is Israel. And that’s only with Netanyahu in power.




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  16. gVOR08 says:

    Not firing Mueller was the only thing Trump has done that didn’t look like the actions of a guilty man. And now it turns out he tried, he was just too incompetent to pull it off.

    Trump clearly tried to obstruct justice in a vernacular sense. Whether it meets the threshold of obstruction legally is a different question, but irrelevant. Mueller can’t indict the prez. Unless there’s a big smoking gun in the underlying crime the public won’t care that much and a Republican House won’t impeach for much less than a cancelled check from Trump personally to Cozy Bear. And even then 40% of the country would scream “fake news”. Maybe we’ll get lucky and the Dutch have video of Trump at their office.




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  17. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @gVOR08:

    now it turns out he tried, he was just too incompetent to pull it off.

    Incompetent, yes…but the real problem was that he was too much of a friggin’ coward. Like every bully…he’s really just a big pu$$y.




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  18. Blue Galangal says:

    @gVOR08:

    gVOR08 says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    I think that, at this point, it is far more likely that Melania kills him in his sleep.

    Gotta get the upvote function back.

    Seconded.




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  19. MarkedMan says:

    @gVOR08: I upvote that




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  20. michael reynolds says:

    @KM:
    I’ve put some thought into this. He could run to Saudi – they are his orb-strokin’ pals. But I’m not sure he’d love the ‘moral’ atmosphere. He could go to Israel – Bibi loves him.

    But my choice would be the Philippines. Trump has property there, plenty of sex workers to pee for him, the government is corrupt as hell, and Duterte is just Trump’s kind of guy.

    I’d clean out any US accounts, offshore every penny I could scrape together, and announce that I’m going off to repair my financial ’empire.’ Then don’t come back. He’d leave behind about 25% of Americans who would set up a whine, but they’re losers, they know they’re losers, they expect to be losers. They’ll move on to some new gripe against reality.

    The man is 71, he can spend the rest of his life in prison, or as a con, or he can run away to Manila, pursued only by state charges. Speaking again from personal experience: sometimes ‘run away’ is sound advice, because there is not a single happy thing on his horizon right now.




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  21. James Pearce says:

    I wish I could share in the fantasies of a felonious Trump being banished to St. Helena or whatever, but I think the likeliest outcome of the Mueller investigation is a couple of low-level pukes getting busted on some relatively minor charges and Donald Trump entering into history, stained by scandal but relatively untouched, and even worse, beloved by millions for his long-standing record of accomplishment.

    Also, this idea that Trump is going to face state charges somewhere in lieu of federal charges? It’s not going to happen.

    Trump is and continues to be a political problem, to be fixed by beating him in an election.




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  22. teve tory says:

    Specifically, Times reporters Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt reported that the President ordered special counsel Robert Mueller to be fired, only to be thwarted in that effort when his own White House Counsel said he would quit rather than carrying out the President’s orders

    What a complete retard.

    And his supporters are even dumber.




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  23. MarkedMan says:

    @James Pearce: James, I’m sure this will come as a complete shock to you, but these are exactly the talking points of the mildly sane Trump supporters when they are talking to “hostiles”.




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  24. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce:

    a couple of low-level pukes getting busted on some relatively minor charges

    Dude, we’re already well past that. The former National Security Adviser got popped, and the only reason he’s not going to jail for a very long time is because he pleaded to a single charge in exchange for his cooperation. We’ve yet to see the fruits of that cooperation, but plea deals like he got always involve individuals higher in the chain. In this case those individuals are very few in number, and one of them is President Trump.




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  25. KM says:

    @James Pearce:

    Also, this idea that Trump is going to face state charges somewhere in lieu of federal charges? It’s not going to happen.

    Why? I can understand the argument that a sitting President will most likely not be impeached simply to preserve the system but once he’s a civilian again, he has no protection other then respect for the Office he used to hold. What in the world makes you think charges won’t be filed? Why should Trump get a pass once he’s no longer Constitutionally protected?

    The argument you are implicitly making is that once someone achieves a certain level of power, the law cannot touch them for the rest of their lives. BS, especially with Trump burning as many bridges as he is.




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  26. Kathy says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    I think that, at this point, it is far more likely that Melania kills him in his sleep.

    It doesn’t have to be in his sleep.




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  27. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Kathy:
    Apparently she visited the DC Holocaust Museum while he was in Davos…maybe looking for a poison gas formula?




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  28. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @CSK: Personally, I took it as snark on Cobb’s part. “Gee no, Officer Krupke, we weren’t doing anything…”




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  29. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: Where’s the upvote thumb when you need it?




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  30. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Guarneri: I’m not sure I understand what you are bloviating about, but it sounds passingly interesting. Who is “he” and where can I find the YouTube video in question.

    If you were trying for snark, please check your meter and better luck next time.




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  31. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @KM:

    What country wants to be the one to accept the first POTUS to run like a bitch from the law?

    He might be able to convince Kim Jong-un that he is a bigly source of hard currency. Kim has no way of knowing how leveraged out he is. And NK is already on the naughty list, so Kim gets a free propaganda boost from it.

    I mean, it’s plausible at least.




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  32. Tyrell says:

    Mueller needs to be investigating the F.B.I. He should also look into the ISIS connections in this country.




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  33. CSK says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker:

    Yeah, could well be snark. It’s hard to tell without being there.




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  34. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    I hadn’t read far enough before I snarked to see you analysis of the effects of a Trump kidnap, but I’m not sure that I buy into the idea that Trump actually KNOWS anything in terms of fact based information that would damage us beyond the short term.

    It’s a valid concern, but I can’t see Trump and an information conduit. Bullshirt conduit? Maybe, but even that is a stretch.




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  35. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @James Pearce:

    Donald Trump entering into history, stained by scandal but relatively untouched, and even worse, beloved by millions for his long-standing record of accomplishment.

    History? Nah, historians are generally honest to some degree at least.

    Neo-Nazi fokelore? Radical RWNJ HOF? What started the collapse of the US as Empire? Sure, Trump could be remembered fondly in these contexts maybe. History? Not so much.




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  36. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan: I assume it was hidden by the Deep State in yet another needlessly complicated conspiracy to exonerate Hillary Clinton.




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  37. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:

    I think the likeliest outcome of the Mueller investigation is a couple of low-level pukes getting busted on some relatively minor charges

    That’s because you are not following the story.

    As mentioned above, Mueller’s got two Trump officials on felonies, so far. Manafort will drop for sure. He could indict Sessions right now on lying to the FBI and obstruction of justice. Former campaign chair, National Security Advisor and Attorney General are not ‘minor pukes.’ And that’s just the ones who could be charged and convicted right now, based on what we know. And we know a lot less than Mueller does.

    You’re being lazily cynical.




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  38. gVOR08 says:

    James, thanks for the thumbs up/down buttons.




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  39. James Pearce says:

    @MarkedMan:

    these are exactly the talking points of the mildly sane Trump supporters when they are talking to “hostiles”.

    Are you saying I shouldn’t use them, or that there may be something worth listening to in them considering how a diverse group of people keep coming to the same conclusions?

    @Mikey:

    The former National Security Adviser got popped, and the only reason he’s not going to jail for a very long time is because he pleaded to a single charge in exchange for his cooperation.

    The max sentence for “lying to the FBI” is 5 years. Whether that’s a “very long time” is a matter of opinion I guess. I also seem to remember reading a less than apologetic\cooperative letter from Flynn which made me think he wasn’t flipping so much as he was cutting off his pinky Yakuza style.

    @KM:

    What in the world makes you think charges won’t be filed?

    Politics. If New York state attempts to prosecute Trump, what’s to stop Texas or Kentucky from attempting to prosecute the next Democrat?

    “The argument you are implicitly making is that once someone achieves a certain level of power, the law cannot touch them for the rest of their lives.”

    It’s not an argument. It’s a fact of life.

    Remember your Thoreau: “Unjust laws exist.” They exist to protect the powerful.




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  40. James Pearce says:

    I must have took too long formulating my reply and it’s stuck in the mod queue. Can some kind soul spring it?




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  41. MarkedMan says:

    @James Pearce: Wait – taking too long can get you sent to the moderation queue? That may explain some of my mystery posting prison sentences….




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  42. James Pearce says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Wait – taking too long can get you sent to the moderation queue? That may explain some of my mystery posting prison sentences….

    Yeah, if you’re like me, attending to other tasks as you compose your comments, you could get stuck after a certain period of time. I’ve gotten into the habit of copying what I’ve typed to the clipboard, refreshing the page, then pasting and posting.

    Forgot to do that this time….




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  43. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds: From my moderated comment:

    “The max sentence for “lying to the FBI” is 5 years. Whether that’s a “very long time” is a matter of opinion I guess. I also seem to remember reading a less than apologetic\cooperative letter from Flynn which made me think he wasn’t flipping so much as he was cutting off his pinky Yakuza style.”




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  44. An Interested Party says:

    The most amazing thing about all of this is how those on each side of the political divide see it so differently…so many Democrats/liberals see this as definitive proof that Il Douche is dirty…meanwhile, so many Republicans/conservatives are like, “Nothing to see here, move along…”

    I wonder if there is anyone who thinks that Nixon was innocent and did nothing wrong…




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  45. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:

    I jumped bail because I was facing 3 to 5. So, yes, five years is a very long time. Try getting arrested some time, sit in a cell with the bars closed. Do that for, oh, five hours. Then come tell me if 5 years is a long time.




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  46. dmichael says:

    @An Interested Party: As a resident old fart, I can tell you that there were plenty of Republicans who supported Nixon to the very end. Very few of them now that the tapes he recorded for posterity were made (mostly) public. In a perverse sort of way, it is almost comforting to know that we had in Nixon a president who was a racist and an anti-semite and yet we survived (except for the service members who died in Vietnam).




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  47. Monala says:

    @dmichael: It’s hard to remember that the years 1968-1974 were horrible ones for this country, and yet we did survive. Thanks for the reminder.




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  48. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    You’re correct. The White House Counsel advises the Office of the Presidency. He/she does NOT act as an attorney for the President as a person. There is no attorney/client relationship created. Effectively, Don terminated that relationship when he assumed this job.




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  49. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce:

    The max sentence for “lying to the FBI” is 5 years. Whether that’s a “very long time” is a matter of opinion I guess.

    Do you seriously think all they were prepared to charge him with was one count of lying to the FBI? That’s what they allowed him to plead down to in exchange for his cooperation.

    And that’s five years PER COUNT of making a false statement, which he surely did more than one time. Not to mention all the other stuff (intentionally omitting foreign travel from his clearance forms, not registering under FARA, taking illegal payments, etc. etc.). Flynn was facing decades behind bars.

    But he was allowed to plead down to one count. Because he flipped…bigly.




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  50. KM says:

    @James Pearce:

    Politics. If New York state attempts to prosecute Trump, what’s to stop Texas or Kentucky from attempting to prosecute the next Democrat?

    Them actually breaking the law? You do need to prove a crime in court you know.

    I know you’re concern trolling but there’s a reason nobody’s tried to arrest Hillary or Obama yet… and it ain’t because they’re worried about Trump’s hide. Nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the fact that there’s nothing you can pin on them (not for lack of trying tho, cons). It’s one thing to spout on about how someone’s a criminal in public but quite another to prove it in a court of law. What Republican wants to be the one who couldn’t Lock Her Up! and made damn sure everyone knows they’re been spouting BS for years? Talk about career killers….

    You do realize something like Trump University can rear itself head again and take out the shyster, right? So many bad deals, it’s only a matter of time. He’s *counting* on people like you to stay out of jail. Dems made a huge mistake letting the Bush Admin get away with what they did – now every dirty Republican knows they just have to get high enough and “tradition” will keep them out of SuperMax. I’d rather run the risk of a former Dem President going through a kangaroo court then let this Administration get a pass.




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  51. Mister Bluster says:

    ….even Fox News Channel, a confirmation that led to a rather amusing on-air reversal by Sean Hannity in the middle of last night’s show.

    A tribute to Sean Hannity and our New! Improved!
    Digital Voting System!

    Kick ’em when they’re up, kick ’em when they’re down
    Kick ’em when they’re stiff, kick ’em all around

    (We all know that crap is king, give us dirty laundry)
    Don Henley

    Trigger Warning: Full frontal nudity at 3:02.




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  52. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I jumped bail because I was facing 3 to 5. So, yes, five years is a very long time.

    That’s the MAX, though. The worst they could do to Flynn, and they’re not going to do that because he’s a general, not a common criminal. (And you can’t escape the political undertones.)

    You’ve seen Goodfellas, right? Mike Flynn would be the guy who cuts the onions so thin they liquefy in the pan.

    @Mikey:

    Do you seriously think all they were prepared to charge him with was one count of lying to the FBI?

    I don’t know. But if you’re willing to assume the deal means he flipped, you should also be willing to assume the deal means they don’t have him cold on anything else.

    @KM:

    Them actually breaking the law? You do need to prove a crime in court you know.

    In a corrupt system, the courts are no refuge for justice. They become, instead, mechanisms of injustice.

    You’ve no doubt heard the phrase, “There’s no justice. There’s just us.”

    Donald Trump is a political problem, to be solved by beating him in an election. Expect your grandkids to graduate from high schools named after him. Do not expect him to be pulled from the White House in handcuffs.




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  53. James Pearce says:

    @James Pearce: Stuck in the mod queue again. But I upvoted my own comment and can reply to it?

    (This is a test.)




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  54. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @An Interested Party: I didn’t think that Nixon “did nothing wrong,” but I did think that because I saw Watergate et al as politics as usual, that his enemies were being petty. I held the same conclusion about the Clinton impeachment–and I wasn’t a friend of Bill in any way at all.




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  55. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce:

    But if you’re willing to assume the deal means he flipped, you should also be willing to assume the deal means they don’t have him cold on anything else.

    If they didn’t have him cold on anything else, why agree to a plea deal? Much better to take a chance in court if there’s only a single count (which there rarely, if ever, is anyway). Of course they had other stuff on him, that’s why he made a deal.

    If you want to see how it goes for the guys who don’t make that deal, just look at the multiple counts and potential 80 years in prison Manafort is facing.




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  56. James Pearce says:

    @Mikey:

    If they didn’t have him cold on anything else, why agree to a plea deal?

    If they had him cold on larger, more serious crimes, why even offer a plea deal?

    From Mike Flynn’s post-deal statement:

    It has been extraordinarily painful to endure these many months of false accusations of ‘treason’ and other outrageous acts. Such false accusations are contrary to everything I have ever done and stood for. But I recognize that the actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong, and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right.

    That’s the statement of a guy who can take a punch and keep on fighting, not a guy who’s going to be spilling his guts over Russian collusion.




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  57. Moosebreath says:

    @James Pearce:

    “If they had him cold on larger, more serious crimes, why even offer a plea deal?”

    You know better than that, James. The plea deal is to get him to cooperate against a bigger target.




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  58. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce:

    If they had him cold on larger, more serious crimes, why even offer a plea deal?

    Oh, please. You can’t possibly be this naive, or this obtuse.

    And even if this is all they had on Flynn–a ludicrous assumption on its face, but let’s accept it for the sake of argument–National Security Adviser is about as far from “low-level puke” as one can get.

    That’s the statement of a guy who can take a punch and keep on fighting, not a guy who’s going to be spilling his guts over Russian collusion.

    Keep on fighting what, exactly? He already pleaded guilty!




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  59. James Pearce says:

    @Moosebreath:

    The plea deal is to get him to cooperate against a bigger target.

    While cooperation is indeed a part of the deal, I would not assume that the deal was made explicitly to get Flynn’s cooperation. These are not some street thugs that can be threatened or manipulated into turning on each other with threats of long-prison sentences thanks to draconian drug laws. These are connected, powerful people with political constituencies.

    @Mikey:

    National Security Adviser is about as far from “low-level puke” as one can get.

    Flynn was NSA for 24 days. He’s no receptionist, that’s true, but he’s a rather minor figure and apparently an expendable one too.

    Keep on fighting what, exactly?

    For Trump.




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  60. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce:

    Flynn was NSA for 24 days.

    I think we can safely assume the President did not appoint Flynn to that position with the expectation he’d be out in 24 days.

    You’re grasping at some pretty thin straws.




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  61. James Pearce says:

    @Mikey:

    You’re grasping at some pretty thin straws.

    It’s possible. But I think the people who are relying on Mueller’s investigation to “take down Trump” are grasping at something too.

    Listen to Luke Skywalker: This is not going to go the way you think.




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  62. MarkedMan says:

    @James Pearce: So, basically, Flynn was a nobody. All Mueller has on him is what he pleaded guilty to and we have no reason to think he cut a deal. Mueller is wasting his time and nothing will come of this. Trump was elected president and the only way to have any effect is to wait three more years and vote him out.

    James, I know this will come as quite the shock given your long standing abhorrence of Trump. But these are exactly the Fox News talking points! Why, if you hadn’t repeatedly said you were a Trump opponent, I would think you were a Trump supporter! Imagine that!




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  63. jimmy says:

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