Mueller’s investigation is closing in on Trump. Congress must protect him | Max Bergmann and Max Boot
Mueller is coming.
The investigation into Trump campaign coordination with Russia appears to be closing in on the president. The three indictments earlier this month of Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort; his deputy, Rick Gates; and foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos show that Robert Mueller is inside Trump’s campaign. The indictment and plea agreement of former national security adviser Michael Flynn now puts the investigation into the White House.
In most circumstances, arresting the president’s campaign chairman and his national security adviser, one of the most important positions in the entire government, would be seen as the culmination of a successful investigation. But what’s clear is that neither Flynn, nor Manafort, is the target of Mueller’s work.
As anyone who watches Law and Order knows, prosecutors offer a plea deal in order to get information and build a case against someone higher up in the food chain. If Flynn does strike a plea agreement, there is logically only one person that Mueller would be interested in striking a deal over: the president.
The walls are therefore closing in on Trump. But the closer Mueller gets to Trump, the likelier it is that Trump will act to try to end his investigation. Ask yourself this: if you committed a crime and had one of the nation’s top cops coming for you, wouldn’t you try anything, no matter how risky, to get out of it? The same circumstances led Richard Nixon to commit the Saturday night massacre.
There are already warning signs that Trump is laying ground work to act against Mueller’s investigation. Following Flynn’s indictment, Trump lashed out against the FBI and Mueller. His allies are now trying to attack the investigation’s credibility, claiming political bias and calling for it to be defunded.
The far-right media echo chamber, including many Republican congressmen, have launched a campaign against Mueller’s credibility. A Republican member of Congress is even seeking to strip the investigation of its funding.
This comes on the heels of a week of rapid fire distractions and jaw dropping comments from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave: using “Pocahontas” as a slur; retweeting racist websites and tweets; and picking fights with the UK prime minister. Additionally, there are reports that Trump’s lawyer Ty Cobb has told him the investigation will be wrapped up by the end of the year – and if it isn’t, he’ll go ballistic.
We are headed for a collision. Congress needs to act now to protect the Mueller investigation, head off a crisis, and make clear that the president is not above the law.
Fortunately, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle are currently crafting legislation designed to deter Mueller from being fired. While this legislation is far from a panacea, it will help to tie Trump’s hands. But most importantly, it would send a signal to the country that the that the rule of law reigns supreme.