So the New York Time released a possible list of questions that Mueller reportedly gave Trump’s legal team. Now of course, that situation has created a firestorm of stories and questions. Who leaked the list? Why? Who aims to benefit? How many tweets was Trump going to devote to it? How many times would he say “Collusion” or “Witch Hunt”? But what has been noted is the phrasing behind the question. Their design seem intended to appeal to Trump’s love of explaining things as opposed to short, succinct, yes or no answers. Now, critics of the investigation say that the point of these questions is to catch Trump in a lie. I say any question, no matter how it’s phrased, is likely to have that happen, because the man publicly lies, on average, 5 times a day, and that’s not hyperbole. The funny thing is, I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump went and answered these questions anyway, because all the people around him are almost certainly telling him not to, and Trump a) doesn’t like being told what to do, and b) thinks he’s too intelligent to be tricked. Gotta love his confidence, right?
So, the raid on Michael Cohen’s place has really amped up Trump and his rhetoric about getting rid of Mueller and killing this Russia investigation. He’s acting like a wannabe mob boss, except, unfortunately, he can actually really cause some bad things to happen. But there is a funny thing buried in articles that no one seems to be mentioning, or at least not yet. Trump is so busy fuming at Mueller, but it turns out Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General, personally signed off on the raid. This wasn’t Mueller making a unilateral decision against Trump. He got the a-ok from the guy who would ACTUALLY be able to fire him. I’m sure Trump is probably aware of this factoid, but the way he’s talking about it, you’d think Rod was working his ass off to keep Trump from hearing about it.
So Trump’s legal team seem to be imploding on themselves, and Trump is trying his level best to assure people that it’s not an ill omen of trouble ahead. First, Trump’s lead lawyer, John Dowd, resigns, because Trump can’t seem to keep his foot out of his mouth. But Trump then tried to bring on Joseph diGenova and his wife, both who are essentially Deep State conspiracy theorists on as new council, only for them to suddenly say “peace out” to that invitation. Of course, Trump couldn’t bear to let people think he’s treading water, that things are looking morose. He wanted to assure people that he was having no trouble finding good lawyers, that people are chomping at the bit to help him prove his “innocence”.
So on Tuesday morning, Trump called Putin and congratulated him on his election victory. He did this despite his national security advisors apparently putting in big bold letters in a briefing “DO NOT CONGRATULATE!” Some are arguing that Trump simply didn’t read the briefing, which kind of tracks, seeing as I’m not entirely certain Trump knows how to read, or at the very least, he clearly doesn’t enjoy it. But the more believable and more likely scenario is Trump did it because he was explicitly told not to. He’s shown on more than one occasion that he will not be dictated to or told how to handle things. I wonder why more of the people surrounding him don’t use that to manipulate his behavior?
There is something inherently humorous and infantile about how Trump’s lawyers are treating the prospect of Trump talking to Mueller. On one level, I kind of understand. No lawyer wants their client talking to law enforcement. On the other hand, the President gets a lot of legal leeway in what he’s allowed to get prosecuted for, and from a purely public point of view, you have to wonder what his legal council is trying to keep Trump from saying. Trump is even bringing on a new lawyer to help (after he condemned the New York Times for reporting that and claiming he wasn’t). And their tactics to limit Mueller’s access to Trump have been weird…This week, they’re presenting “documents” to Mueller’s team, essentially a narrative that they pinky promise is the total and complete truth and is totally, completely as useful as Trump’s own testimony.
I kind of admire the balls on Paul Manafort. He is asking a judge to dismiss the 5 criminal charges against him, not because he’s innocent, but because Manafort thinks Mueller shouldn’t have been allowed to catch him if he was focusing on the Russia investigation. This despite the fact that he acknowledges that Mueller’s mandate was widespread and gave him prosecutorial power over anything he uncovered in the search of collusion. Now, admittedly, I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t know how much sway that argument is going to have in court.