Trump is flailing. Here’s what it all means.
President Trump’s lawyers and aides are scouring the professional and political backgrounds of investigators hired by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, looking for conflicts of interest they could use to discredit the investigation — or even build a case to fire Mr. Mueller or get some members of his team recused, according to three people with knowledge of the research effort.
… while WaPo presented facts that scream “Donald is desperate for a way out of Russiagate”:
A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves.
Trump’s legal team declined to comment on the issue. But one adviser said the president has simply expressed a curiosity in understanding the reach of his pardoning authority, as well as the limits of Mueller’s investigation.
“This is not in the context of, ‘I can’t wait to pardon myself,” a close adviser said.
It’s a classic discrediting campaign, as Mike Schmidt explained on today’s edition of “Morning Joe”:
It is no surprise that this news should come after a week and a half of Russiagate cake – the gusher of details surrounding Donald Trump Jr’s meeting with Russian agents in June 2016 complete with the Trump camp’s constantly changing stories and spin – followed by the cherry on top – news that Special Counsel Mueller is investigating Trump’s tax returns.
The impulsive former reality-show host let it slip yesterday that an investigation into anything not linked at the hip to the Trump-Russia mess was some kind of “red line” – without understanding that such a statement suggests the Trump brood has a yuuuge pile of history to hide. The news that trump is targeting Mueller only makes the matter worse – and only emboldens investigators and law enforcers to dig deeper, because that’s who they are and that’s what they do.
But there are other overnight, “under-the-radar” news developments that fill out a more telling picture of why there is panic in Trump-ville:
- Trump has lost his lead lawyer: “Marc Kasowitz, the head of President Donald Trump’s outside legal team representing him in the Russia investigation, is stepping aside, according to multiple reports published Thursday night. CBS News White House correspondent Major Garrett first tweeted that Kasowitz was ‘out’ as Trump’s attorney, while New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman tweeted he was “not gone” but had a ‘lesser role.'”
- Trump has lost his legal team’s spokesman: “The chief spokesman for President Trump’s personal legal team, Mark Corallo, has resigned. Corallo confirmed his resignation in an email to The Hill. Politico reported Thursday that his resignation was due to growing frustration with operation and warring factions, as well as concerns over whether he was being told the truth. Corallo, a veteran GOP operative, was working on the White House defense against special counsel Robert Meuller’s probe into Russian election interference in the 2016 election.”
- Republican Senators have the back of a primary target of Trump’s tantrum to the New York Times: “Senate Republicans are sounding of single mind: Attorney General Jeff Sessions, until five months ago a senior GOP senator from Alabama, has done nothing to merit the upbraiding he’s been taking from President Donald Trump. …
“Conversations on Thursday with nine senators from across the Republican ideological spectrum, representing one-sixth of the party caucus, produced not a single critical word about their former colleague — let alone anyone willing to agree the president is justified in being angry that Sessions recused himself from the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
“‘He’s a totally honorable man, a public servant who is trying to do the right thing,’ Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska, a former attorney general of the state, said in a typical comment.”
- And the revelations keep on coming: “The Russian lawyer who met Donald Trump Jr. after his father won the Republican nomination for the 2016 U.S. presidential election counted Russia’s FSB security service among her clients for years, Russian court documents seen by Reuters show.
“The documents show that the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, successfully represented the FSB’s interests in a legal wrangle over ownership of an upscale property in northwest Moscow between 2005 and 2013. The FSB, successor to the Soviet-era KGB service, was headed by Vladimir Putin before he became Russian president.
“There is no suggestion that Veselnitskaya is an employee of the Russian government or intelligence services, and she has denied having anything to do with the Kremlin. But the fact she represented the FSB in a court case may raise questions among some U.S. politicians.”
The situation is not going to improve for Trump as new facts surrounding Russiagate emerge. The fact that Republicans have taken notice – at least as far as Trump’s fury with Sessions – is a pretty solid indication that they are starting to read the tea leaves (and news sources outside of FOX).
It’s not likely that Trump is going to stop acting as if he and his family are above or immune from the law. Watch for Trump to continue lashing out and flailing before he does something genuinely self-destructive.