Saturday, June 17, 2017

Trump’s Tantrums Over Rosenstein Speak Volumes

As the Washington Post and other news media outlets have reported, Der Trumpenführer let loose with a Twitter tantrum directed at Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that complained as follows:
“I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt,” 

Never mind that Trump himself told the world on national television that he was going to fire James Comey regardless of an advice from Mr. Rosenstein or anyone else. Sadly, it is part and parcel with Trump's constant lying that is believed only by the most brain dead of his core base of evangelical Christians and white supremacists.  There's a reason why Trump now has a disapproval rate of 64% based on the latest polling.  Unfortunately, as a column in the Washington Post notes, this may be the beginning of even more chaos if Trump fires Rosenstein, something that will only add to grounds for finding obstruction of justice.  Trump is proving daily that his is mentally and morally unfit for office. We are rapidly approaching a 2017 version of Watergate. Here are column excerpts:
It’s come to this, on his 146th day in office: The president, under investigation for obstruction of justice, attacked his own deputy attorney general for orchestrating a “witch hunt” against him.
Sometimes my role as a columnist is to advise readers not to overreact, to maintain perspective. Today my advice is to buckle up. Brace yourselves.
I’m not sure for what, exactly. President Trump firing Rod J. Rosenstein or taking moves that would force the deputy attorney general, and perhaps others, to quit? Firing special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, whose probe has pushed Trump to this frenzied state? Using his pardon power in an effort to shut down the investigation, on the theory that Mueller would then have nothing left to probe? Pardoning himself, a move of contested legality that even Richard Nixon balked at? Facing impeachment proceedings, however unlikely that may be with a Republican-controlled Congress?
That any of these seem within the realm of possibility is the measure of how unsettled, and unsettling, this moment is. Actually, that’s an understatement. This situation is alarming in a way I have never experienced in almost four decades here.
I am not alone. “The message the president is sending through his tweets is that he believes the rule of law doesn’t apply to him and that anyone who thinks otherwise will be fired,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said in a statement Friday. “That’s undemocratic on its face and a blatant violation of the president’s oath of office.”
 Trump’s wounds are entirely self-inflicted. He has seemed determined — frantic, really — to see that the case against fired national security adviser Michael Flynn is dropped. If you credit Comey’s sworn account over Trump’s news conference denials, Trump demanded Comey’s loyalty; pressed him to drop the case against Flynn; and eventually fired Comey himself because of his handling of “this Russia thing.” As Comey might say, no reasonable prosecutor would fail to investigate in these circumstances.
What Trump derides as a “phony witch hunt” is the legal system working as it should. Attorney General Jeff Sessions needed to recuse himself. Rosenstein needed to name a special counsel. And Mueller needs to pursue the investigation, impartially and fearlessly, to its logical end.
That Trump now feels the need to attack seasoned prosecutors for simply doing their jobs speaks volumes — and says nothing reassuring about the lengths to which Trump, for whom self-preservation has always been the top priority, might eventually go.
Again, the irony is that with ever lie and insane outburst, Trump is only adding to the momentum of the Russiagate investigation.  If Trump colluded with Russia - something I would not put past him - and/or engaged in illegal money laundering schemes with Russians, he has no one to blame but himself.  If he is forced from office and/or prosecuted, he will have done it to himself.  Another Post article looks at this irony:
 We are heading toward Donald Trump’s version of the Saturday Night Massacre.
While the details aren’t precisely the same, the parallels are many. A president under a widening investigation for (among other things) possible obstruction of justice. A special counsel targeted by the president’s ire. High-ranking officials in the Justice Department unwilling to put loyalty to the president above their obligations to the country, and losing their jobs because of it. All that’s left is the dramatic round of firings and resignations and the headlong rush toward impeachment.
Richard Nixon didn’t have Twitter, but Donald Trump does. And this morning, he attacked his deputy attorney general, . . . . In addition to everything else, Trump confirms here the reports from anonymous sources that he is the target of an obstruction of justice investigation. Glad we cleared that up.
What does this have to do with Watergate? Let’s go back to the Saturday Night Massacre. In October 1973, Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal, demanded that President Nixon turn over recordings of his Oval Office conversations. Nixon refused, and tried to negotiate a deal that Cox rejected. Nixon then ordered the attorney general, Elliot Richardson, to fire Cox. Richardson refused, and resigned. Nixon then ordered the deputy attorney general, William Ruckelshaus, to fire Cox. Ruckelshaus refused, and resigned. Nixon then ordered the next person in the Justice Department hierarchy, Solicitor General Robert Bork, to fire Cox. Bork agreed. While it would be 10 more months before Nixon himself resigned, the Saturday Night Massacre may have been the point where his determination to obstruct the Watergate investigation became the most clear to everyone in the country.
We aren’t there yet, but let’s take a good look at where we are. There is something serious going on between Trump and Rosenstein, who is overseeing the investigation of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. . . . . only Rosenstein has the authority to fire Mueller. And it’s plain that Trump would like to rid himself of this meddlesome special counsel; the question is whether he will try. Multiple reports from inside the White House paint a picture of Trump as obsessed with the investigation, railing against Mueller and considering whether to fire him — an act that everyone around Trump knows would be a political catastrophe (and possibly a legal one as well).
By Trump’s own admission, he had already decided to fire FBI director James Comey when he ordered Rosenstein to prepare a report describing Comey’s alleged shortcomings.
If Rosenstein is considering recusal, it’s because of his role in the Comey firing — which, let’s not forget, Trump admitted both on national television and in a conversation with Russian officials in the Oval Office that he did out of unhappiness with the Russia investigation. Rosenstein could become a witness in the obstruction investigation, which would make it problematic for him to be overseeing Mueller. The authority would then fall to Brand. Is Trump going to go after her next? What happens if he orders her to fire Mueller? Would she resign in protest like Richardson and Ruckelshaus, or follow orders like Bork?
Let’s step back and try to grasp everything that’s going on here. The president of the United States is waging an inept public relations campaign against the special counsel’s investigation . . . 
[I]t [the Russiagate investigation] seems to be pushing Trump to particular heights of irrationality. If you were trying to limit the investigation and its political fallout and not antagonize the prosecutors, it would be utterly insane to send out these kinds of tweets. Trump’s staff and lawyers are surely begging him to stop. But they can’t control him.
In an ordinary scandal, you have some initial set of misdeeds, and then possibly a coverup that adds more misdeeds that could themselves be criminal. In the Russia scandal we could have those two sets of actions, but on top of them we have a paranoid, infantile president seemingly determined to put himself in ever-greater political and legal jeopardy. The more we learn about how deep Mueller’s investigation is reaching, the higher the chances that Trump will, in a moment of rage, order Mueller to be fired. If you think things are dramatic and absurd right now, just wait — it’s going to get worse.
 What I cannot understand is why anyone sane would have voted for Trump.  His entire career and behavior for decades proved beyond question that he was unfit for office. 

1 comment:

Stephen said...

I think anyone who voted for Trump is deplorable. But as for "all" turning against Nixon, 11 of 17 Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee voted against impeachment (six voted for it, along with all 21 Democrats).