Trump’s Impulsive and Impetuous. Congress Should Not Be.
Late Sunday, White House attorney Ty Cobb said Trump is not considering firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller. But how does anybody really know that besides Trump? And even if Trump himself said he wasn’t, would we believe him?
So the only thing we should really expect to get a handle on is how Congress would react. And even that’s far from clear.
The President’s attacks on Special Counsel Robert Mueller went into overdrive this weekend, after 3 significant developments late last week:
- Mueller’s team sent questions for Trump over to the White House as part of their negotiations for a face-to-face interview with President, that according to the New York Times.
- Mueller subpoenaed documents from the Trump Organization for the first time.
- And Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired once-acting F.B.I. Director Andrew McCabe (as Trump celebrated) on the basis of an unreleased internal investigation (which Trump had criticized) which claimed he “failed to be forthcoming”. (McCabe was just hours away from retiring anyway, and now might not get his pension. But honestly, this is the least of our worries right now. Yeah, it was cruel, but it’s not exactly like McCabe’s going to be on a bread line the rest of his life.)
Here’s a sampling of how Trump processed all of that:
Perhaps the President is trying to assess potential reaction too, as his Tweets “test” all kinds of arguments and theories. And Trump is likely to have more to say when he visits New Hampshire today, where he’s also expected to unveil his plan to fight the opioid epidemic, including the death penalty for drug dealers, one of his biggest pet causes of late.
House Speaker Paul Ryan put out a typically lukewarm statement saying: “Mr. Mueller and his team should be able to do their job“. Senator Lindsey Graham repeated what he’s said before: “that would be the beginning to the end of his Presidency“, but his influence is limited and a lot of what he says does not come to pass. Senator John McCain Tweeted:
But there’s no love lost between him and Trump.
Representative Trey Gowdy, who we’ve called the “unlikely voice of reason” several times recently, was perhaps the strongest, saying if Trump is indeed innocent he should “act like it” and leave Mueller alone. Gowdy also said repeated Tweets by Trump claiming that the House Intelligence Committee, which he sits on, basically exonerated the President are not accurate, because a lot of the witnesses who appeared before the Committee did not cooperate, so they may have been left with a limited picture: “You don’t know what you don’t know“, he said. Gowdy, however, is a lame duck, saying he won’t run again this fall, meaning his level of involvement will depend on the timing of how this all (potentially) goes down.
(We’re not sure what a “hardened” Democrat is. The two people at the top of the investigation Special Counsel Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein are both Republicans. Among the investigators themselves, many are registered Democrats, and have donated to Democratic candidates in the past including Obama and Clinton. Only one donated to Republican candidates. Others do not align themselves with any party and did not donate.)
What more can Congress do right now? The “easiest” thing is to make it very clear to Trump that if he fires Mueller, they’ll just go ahead and hire him back themselves. Short of that, they could pass legislation making it more difficult for Trump to fire the Special Counsel. It’s already written (by Republicans) and ready to go, and it’s pretty simple: if Trump fires Mueller, the firing could be appealed to a federal court. However, it’s something they’d have to pass quickly, haven’t had an appetite for yet even though it’s been out there, and Congress isn’t known for speed.
One final thought, per Nate Silver:
Yes, It Wasn’t A “Breach”, It Was Much Worse
If somebody told you your house was robbed, you might not agree if you’d given the robbers your keys and told them they could take stuff if they wanted.
So Facebook initially responded angrily to accusations of a “breach” in joint reporting by the New York Times and The Observer. Their extraordinary story details how the supposedly protected data of tens of millions of subscribers was pilfered by a data company affiliated with the Trump campaign, and financed by Trump allies.
Shortly after, Facebook changed its tune, claiming in effect it was in fact the the victim of what it called “a scam and a fraud”, and had now suspended the accounts of the company in question, Cambridge Analytica.
Despite the name, the company has no official ties to Cambridge University, but one very important unofficial tie: a Russian American researcher at the University who privately built his own app which started out with a “voluntary” survey of Facebook users and their habits, but then grabbed their friends’ habits, and so on. His work was detailed in an earlier piece by The Intercept.
The Trump Campaign has long-insisted it never used any of the data it got from Cambridge Analytica in the 2016 Election, nor does it have any relationship with the firm now.
Putin “Wins” Russia Presidency
The final tally for Sunday’s election has him at about 76% of the vote. Slightly outperforming what the polls predicted! Putin’s most politically viable opponent, Alexei Navalny was not allowed to run due to embezzlement charges against him that he says are trumped up.
In short, this means 6 more years of Putin, who has stayed at the top far longer than any other President since Russia became a Democracy, and soon longer than any Communist era leader except for Stalin.
Another political rival, Garry Kasparov, Tweeted this:
The former chess champion drew an analogy: “When one “player” has success with a strategem, it’s quickly imitated by other players.” And though he wasn’t referring directly to Trump, there’s no doubt Putin’s staying power continues to provide valuable lessons to him: Putin’s constantly portraying Russia as under attack economically, politically, and culturally. The Washington Post reports the strong unified reaction to a Russia-led nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in the U.K. was used inside Russia as evidence of a global anti-Russia plot.
Republicans In Georgia Move To Cancel Sunday Voting, Eliminate Extra Time For Atlanta
That’s after a Democrat was able to flip a Republican seat in a district that included part of Atlanta and part of another county where voting closed earlier. “One person should not be allowed to vote one hour longer than another person”, said the Republican sponsor of the bill. “Atlanta voters had an advantage” said another Republican legislator. Read that any way you want. Of course there’d be another way to solve this: extend voting one hour for everybody.
Voting in Atlanta closes at 8 PM, instead of 7 PM for the rest of the state in a law that was passed nearly 50 years ago, and has gone largely unchallenged until now.
Also part of the bill which just came out of committee, a measure that would effectively end early voting on Sunday. That’s a more recent development, and Republicans, including Georgia’s Governor oppose it on the grounds that it gives an advantage to Democrats. How so? Because, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution a lot of African-American churches run “go to church, then go to vote” drives.
Under the proposed bill, counties could have one day of Saturday or Sunday voting, not both. But there’s already another law on the books which mandates Saturday early voting for any state or federal election, meaning Sunday would automatically be out.