Legal Trench Warfare

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

According to staffers who traveled with him to Mar-a-Lago Trump had a wonderful Easter weekend and they had never seen him happier than after his ‘complete exoneration’ by Robert Mueller.  However, as is so often the case, the president got in the way of that messaging by hurling a series of tweets on the Internet that went from angry to furious, suggesting that the sender was having a temper tantrum gradually resulting in a meltdown.  Apparently the press coverage of Mueller’s findings had made it dawn on Trump that the report described plenty of collusion, although his campaign had been too clumsy to come to a formal agreement with the Russians that would have constituted a conspiracy, and that it detailed multiple instances of his obstructing justice, not only an impeachable offense but also something Trump can go to jail for after he leaves the Oval Office.  Mueller was no longer an honorable man, and the Special Counsel’s 13 to 18 angry Democrats (the number varies considerably in Trump’s tweets) were once again out to get the president with made up allegations Trump characterized as ‘bullshit.’

Although he boasted about the ‘total transparency’ with which the White House had responded to the Mueller probe – conveniently forgetting his own refusal to be interviewed by the Special Counsel – Trump must have cursed Ty Cobb and John Dowd, the lawyers who had convinced him that it was best to let his staffers answer Mueller’s questions without restrictions, so that the whole thing would blow over in a New York minute.  It led to White House Counsel McGahn’s telling Mueller about the two times Trump had tried to get rid of him, giving orders McGahn had refused to obey.  Totally bizarre was the president’s instruction to Corey Lewandowski, one of his former campaign managers who didn’t have a position in the administration, to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  Even Lewandowski, who is never reluctant to follow the president into a sewer, realized that he would become the butt of jokes if he tried to comply with the order, and  told Mueller about it.  Trump  seems to be still in denial about these facts, considering his recent statement to the press pool that ‘nobody disobeys my orders.’

With the House investigations into Trump’s administration, his campaign and his business gearing up, the president has opted for a strategy of stonewalling.  The White House is claiming executive privilige to keep McGahn and other former and current staffers from testifying  – a position that is hard to maintain because the privilige was waived when they talked to Mueller – and Trump is sueing the Oversight Committee for having requested documents from his tax preparer, while the Treasury is breaking the law by refusing to  hand over the president’s tax returns to the Finance Committee.

This week the White House has embarked on a public relations campaign that tops every insanity it has produced so far.  Rudi Giuliani, who crawled out of his snake pit, declared on the Sunday morning shows that there is nothing wrong with getting and using information from the Russians, and Jared Kushner added his two cents by ignoring a large part of Mueller’s report and saying in an interview that the Russians had only bought a few Facebook adds, and that the Mueller probe had done far more damage to the nation.

The White House strategy has two objectives: preventing the Democrats from educating the public about Trump’s crimes and running out the clock until the 2020 elections.  The latter is a tactic the president has used all of his life when business dealings went wrong, and his victims could fill a stadium.  Meanwhile talking about Russian interference is not allowed in Trump’s presence, so for 2020 Putin has an open invitation to do it again.

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