The Mueller Interview
(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)
While former and current Trump associates, as well as his oldest son, are being tried, indicted or investigated for bank or wire fraud, tax evasion, securities fraud, embezzlement and criminal conspiracy, most of the media’s attention is directed at the freak show the president’s legal team is putting on in its communications with the Special Counsel. The news came in bits and pieces: first Rudy Giuliani mentioned a letter that had been sent to Robert Mueller with the offer to have Trump interviewed on the condition that there would be no questions about collusion and obstruction of justice, and no questions that could lead the president into a perjury trap. After that generous offer apparently had been turned down by Mueller a second offer was made, to have Trump answer only ‘appropriate’ questions in writing. With that second offer the option that Mueller would get to interview the president voluntarily is off the table, and it makes it more than likely that he will subpoena Trump, which would probably take the issue to the Supreme Court and squash Hizzoner’s bizarre demand that Mueller finishes his probe by September 1st because otherwise he would violate a Department of Justice policy that only Giuliani is familiar with.
If they had a slightly more sympathetic public face than Giuliani’s you would almost feel sorry for Trump’s lawyers. If Mueller had the opportunity to ask the president if he asked Jim Comey to go easy on Mike Flynn Trump could deny, which would constitute perjury, as Comey’s contemporary memos would prove, or he could admit, which would be a confession to obstruction of justice. Similarly, if Mueller asked Trump if he fired Comey because of the Russia probe the president could either deny and commit perjury, because he already admitted as much in a TV interview with Lester Holt, or he could confess once more to obstruction of justice. The bottom line is: Trump cannot be interviewed because both if he lies and if he tells the truth he incriminates himself. The same would happen in a Grand Jury interrogation, which is why the president’s lawyers will fight a subpoena tooth and nail. In this context the Republicans’ rush to have Brett Kavanough confirmed as Supreme Court Justice is important, because they expect him to be the fifth vote that establishes that the US President cannot be subpoenaed. To speed up the confirmation process GOP senators deny the Democrats information about Kavanaugh’s time in the Bush White House.
With the additional media attention spent on the Trump crime syndicate of Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Michael Cohen, Congressman Collins, Wilbur Ross and Don Jr. other events have almost been forgotten: Trump attacked LeBron James and Don Lemon, both black, for a perceived lack of intelligence, continuing the long racist tradition of the Trump family. The decision to disparage the most popular athlete in the country three months before elections calls Trump’s own intelligence into question.
Having Hope Hicks join him on Airforce One last weekend may be understandable in light of Trump’s apparent rift with Melania, but it also opens him up to a suspicion of witness tampering, and the president’s constant attacks on the press as ‘enemy of the people’ may have him end up with the blood of journalists on his hands, as Bret Stephens powerfully illustrated in the New York Times.
A judge ruled that a lawsuit filed by the State of Maryland alleging that Trump violates the ‘emoluments clause’ can go forward, which may produce Trump’s 2017 tax returns. And during the campaign Trump promised to pay down the national debt, but in 2018 and 2019 it will rise with at least $1.8 trillion.
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