Tuesday, March 20, 2018


The Thunderbolt, Coney Island, over the Kensington Hotel, before it was razed in 2000. Photo by Charles Denson, via New York Folklore Society.

Jordan, in comments to yesterday's post (the thread's gotten so long that I feel we have to start a new post):
It's everywhere now. Digby's got it again, and Slate, and a dozen other places. "Trump unleashed." All those people who could talk him out of things (which is a way of reading the Wolff book, at least) are now gone -- so it's not that Trump has changed ("feeling his power" etc.) but that his idiotic moves get unchallenged.
I don't know what to make of all the Republican Senators/Congresspeople (Lindsay Graham etc.) coolly assuring reporters that there's no need to create legislation to prevent Trump from firing Mueller because they're sure that could never happen.
I'm genuinely puzzled by this whole thing. It's very easy to jump at shadows right now...and there is a lot of historical precedent for this particular nervousness and confusion (and, the scare images of jumping too late in the correct direction)...but I don't trust either side of that argument right now.
"Now that I don't have any friends, look how powerful I am!"

Sadly, no, Donald. You're just crazier.

One of the things you have to remember is that Trump's courtiers don't just stop him from doing crazy shit, they also enable him. The man can't make himself a peanut butter sandwich without help, and nobody can carry out the immense tasks of the presidency without huge amounts of help, which he and his personal helpers have been systematically dismantling.

We know for sure, in this connection, that Trump will never fire special counsel Mueller, because he literally can't. Only the attorney general, or his deputy if he himself is recused from the case, can do that, and if Trump wants Mueller fired he must either persuade Deputy A.G. Rod Rosenstein to do it, or else carry out the maneuver of firing A.G. Sessions and Rosenstein, turning the decision over to Solicitor General Noel Francisco (standing in for the no. 3 official who used to be Rachel Brand before she fled the administration last month), a possibility that may well have been discussed at this famous dinner three weeks ago, almost defiantly held at Central Michel Richard directly across from the Trump property in the Old Post Office, the evening after a Trump tweet calling Sessions "DISGRACEFUL".
Trump was mad then because Sessions had the FBI inspector general investigating the conduct of the Mueller investigation; he's probably forgotten it now that the I.G. has given Sessions the ammunition for firing Andrew McCabe.

Speaking of which, Trump didn't fire McCabe because Hope Hicks and Rob Porter and John McEntee weren't there to hold his hand and stop him. He didn't fire McCabe at all, Sessions did, at the end of a process that began formally at least five or six weeks ago, and probably a good deal earlier than that—Trump was complaining about McCabe's pension back before Christmas:
All of which is not to say that Mueller's not going to get fired—who knows?—but it's not going to be in some spontaneous eruption of rage. It will be in consequence of a plan of some kind (like the Tillerson firing, which entailed moving around Pompeo and Haspel as well; the exact timing of Trump's go-ahead may have been the result of a temper tantrum, but it was prepared months ago, and was certain to happen sooner or later), and planning is not Trump's own strong point. Somebody else has to do it for him,  and that's the people who stop him from doing things. He may be frustrated with them, but he's helpless without them.

And it's my guess that those people really don't want to fire Mueller. Jared and Ivanka would like to fire Mueller, no doubt, as they wanted to fire Comey, because they're guilty, but they don't have the power or the skill or the patience or the intelligence. Those who do didn't care about McCabe (who wasn't even working any more anyway, he was on vacation leave waiting for his birthday and retirement), and they didn't care about Tillerson, because nobody cares about Tillerson—some are inclined to credit Tillerson for preserving the Iran deal, but all sorts of people, including Mattis and McMaster, have told Trump he must preserve the Iran deal, so there's no reason to suppose Trump would have listened to Tillerson in particular, any more than he listened to Tillerson about anything (to my way of thinking, the Iran deal is safe against Pompeo, because Trump is satisfied with having "decertified" Iran and thus liberating himself from the need to admit periodically that Iran is in compliance with the JCPOA, with pretending he scuttled the Iran deal; just as he's satisfied with pretending to have retaliated against Syria with the bombing run in April 2017, or would have been satisfied with pretending to have "shut down Muslims entering this country" if the courts would have let him).

But they care about Mueller, which is what that dinner was signaling.

I think what Digby's post and the one by Jamelle Bouie at Slate are about is the belief, which I certainly share, that if Mueller is fired then Republicans will do nothing, in spite of the brave noises a few GOP Senators are making, again. The idea that Lindsey Graham or Orrin Hatch might show up and save us from this scourge is not a smart idea.

But I'm afraid this is a very long roller coaster ride, and it's just not coming to an end soon, bad or good. And there are some good things in the mix. It's true that if he shot a man dead on Fifth Avenue he wouldn't lose any votes, but he would get arrested. Firing Mueller isn't going to stop the investigation, and I believe the attack on McCabe has made the entire FBI more committed to carrying it through than they otherwise would have been; it was an attack on everybody's pension. Democratic prospects in November keep getting better. Trump's weakness is evidenced in the comical way the babysitters stopped him from tweeting for a while over the weekend—
—and this thing I noticed yesterday, where his lawyers in the Mueller investigation are explicitly arguing that Trump shouldn't be interviewed because he isn't authorized to speak for the White House:

He's more and more not all there, in more ways than one.

No comments:

Post a Comment