Yesterday in the Rose Garden, Trump made clear that he is willing to place his version of recent events up against the one set forth by former FBI Director James Comey in his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. This sets up a “he said/he said” contest that pits a serial liar and adulterer against the word of a man whose entire career in government has been marked by moral rectitude, even though one can surely disagree with some decisions that Comey has made. But, those were judgment calls and conflating alleged lapses in judgment with dishonesty is deceitful.
What has now ensued is an intense back-and-forth between 45’s supporters and those arrayed against him. Conservatives, both in and out of government, have taken every opportunity to defame Comey and his character and thus paint him as an untruthful and unreliable witness. The former Director’s supporters have countered with reference to their man’s record of probity, the fact that he testified under oath, and is “guilty” of no worse than “leaking” his memo which was full of the recollections of a private citizen that contained no classified information and that was not limited by any Trumpian claim of Executive Privilege. The goal of this game is to win for 45 (or Comey) a victory in the court of public opinion. That makes a certain amount of sense on one superficial level, but misses badly on a more fundamental one as will be described next.
All that’s really going to matter
When the dust settles all that will be significant is what House and Senate investigative committees and Special Prosecutor (SP) Robert Mueller find as they delve into this mess. Is there or is there not evidence of criminal behavior on the part of Trump and/or any number of his associates? Mueller in particular, will be guided by where the facts lead him and it won’t matter if 45 wins the fight in the court of public opinion by a score of 100 to nothing. Were laws broken? If the answer is “yes”, then by whom and what remedy is available? Since no president can be put on trial for criminal behavior, it is left to the House to draft bills of impeachment, pass them, and then send them on to the Senate. If someone other than 45 is involved, then a grand jury would be convened to judge the merit of the case against that individual.
Mueller as key figure
As the contents of the last section should have made clear, SP Mueller will play a pivotal role in what eventually transpires. He has already seen and learned enough to not only ramp up his investigation, he has made three critical hires: James Quarles and Andrew Weisman, both lawyers will stellar reputations for their successfully pursuit of cases of fraud and money laundering, and Michael Dreeben who has a long and distinguished record of white-collar crime-busting. Their presence should send out a clear signal as to the directions that the SP thinks this case is headed.
We are in the earliest stage of what is likely to be a long and complicated process involving Mueller’s probing along with that of the House and Senate investigative committees as they all seek to help us all better understand Russia’s meddling in our election, and what role, if any, was played in that scheme by Trump and/or his associates. When Mueller makes his final decisions relative to whether to bring charges or not, we will all have to live with those outrcomes. Until that day dawns, a “cloud” will hang over 45’s presidency and it won’t be dispatched any time soon.
In the last blog posted here, there was an erroneous reference made to “Connor Page” an associate of 45’s. That man’s name is Carter Page. That unintended error was mine and mine alone.