Friday, April 13, 2018

Trump vs. Mueller - After a Saturday Night Massacre, there will be a Sunday Morning Sidewalk

The only question you should be asking: Is this the Saturday?

With apologies for my lyrics to Kris Kristofferson for his excellent song Sunday Morning Sidewalk (here a duet with Johnny Cash).

After Saturday night mass’cre
I’m wishing Lord that I was stoned
‘Cause there’s something in our Pres’dent
That makes a body feel alone
And there’s nothin’ short of dyin‘
That’s half as loathsome as the sound
Of a sleepin’ Goplin Congress
And Sunday mornin’ comin’ down

Many writers I read, and many people I listen to, are all but resigned to some form of a Trumpian Saturday Night Massacre resulting in the firing of Robert Mueller and maybe a few more. There seems to be little if any gumption in Washington to resist Trump. Especially not the GOP members of Congress.

Republican columnist Rick Wilson explains how Congressional Republicans are spineless. They’re not going to save Mueller..

I’ll get back to Wilson’s essay, but first off, how serious is the talk of Trump firing Mueller (and maybe Sessions, and maybe Rosenstein, and maybe …)? It seems more so with each day. For example, just when you thought things could not be worse, Bannon is back. Robert Costa (Washington Post) provides the evidence that Bannon pitches White House on plan to cripple Mueller probe and protect Trump. Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s former top strategist, says the White House should stop cooperating with special counsel Robert S. Muller III and assert executive privilege.

… Bannon’s efforts signify the growing pressure from an influential wing of Trump’s political base to thwart Mueller, who, many Trump allies believe, presents an existential legal and political threat to his presidency.

How will this happen?

The first step … would be for Trump to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein … cease [White House] cooperation with Mueller … create a new legal battleground to protect [Trump] from the investigation by asserting executive privilege — and arguing that Mueller’s interviews with White House officials over the past year should now be null and void. [Bannon claims] "It was a strategic mistake to turn over everything without due process, and executive privilege should be exerted immediately and retroactively.”

Bannon and his allies sense that Trump simply needs a nudge to fire Rosenstein, according to the people familiar with Bannon’s discussions. They said Trump has recently told friends and aides that he is willing to engage in political warfare in the coming months to stop his presidency from being consumed by the investigation.

The case against Rosenstein has featured prominently in the closed-door discussions among Bannon and other figures on the right, with Bannon arguing that voters in the GOP base will stick by the president if he removes Rosenstein despite protests from Republican leaders and many others.

“Let’s remember whom we’re dealing with here …”

… Wilson reminds us.

With few exceptions, congressional Republicans are cowed by this president. They’re accustomed to making excuses for him, and if they were going to stand up to him, they’ve already had plenty of chances. Thursday, via tweet, Trump made no bones about his view that he can jettison Mueller whenever he chooses. So, while anything’s possible, it’s tough to imagine that if Mueller gets fired before he completes his investigation, members of the GOP caucus will come together to take meaningful action that punishes Trump. Nothing they’ve done up to now suggests that they’ve got the requisite backbone.

It’s been nearly a year since Trump fired James Comey as FBI director, and the best that a lot of these professional brow-furrowers and hand-wringers could muster, at the time, were reactions ranging from “disappointed” to “troubled” to “Trump made the right decision.”…

Since Comey’s firing, they’ve stuck with Trump through last year’s dubious Syria missile strikes, a burgeoning deficit, two reported affairs, emerging allegations of a heretofore unreported love child, tariffs (freaking tariffs) and a perverse adherence to let’s-hear-both-sides-ism when it comes to torch-marching bigots.

They’ve left the nuclear codes in the hands of a man whose tweets read as if their author were foaming at the mouth. They’ve shrugged as he’s burned through a chief economic adviser, a chief of staff, an arsonist-in-chief — er, chief strategist — a secretary of state, a VA secretary, a press secretary, two national security advisers and three communications directors in 15 months on the job. (Did I miss someone? Does it matter?)

If you think this is exaggeration, you’ve not been attending to Scott Pruitt’s misuse of public funds to feed his own paranoia. Why is Pruitt still in office? Perhaps it is to fill in as AG if/when Trump fires Sessions?

The bottom line: there are damn few GOPlins willing to stand up to Trump. So few that I feel justified in my pronouncement of cowards all.

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