Weekend ReadsOpinions | Trump’s new effort to muzzle Mueller gives away his big scam
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Premier Doug Ford is firing back after being hit with a $5M defamation lawsuit by former OPP deputy Brad Blair, denying accusations made against him in the suit filed in March over claims Blair violated the Police Services Act. Ford's lawyers said the premier was defending himself against "malicious" public attacks when he made comments last year about the former high-ranking Ontario Provincial Police officer who is now suing him.
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President Trump and his advisers want you to believe that the conclusion of the Mueller investigation amounts to much more than just “total exoneration.” It will also help Trump get reelected, because it validated his argument that the probe was an illegitimate effort to remove him, allowing him to go on offense against the “deep state” cabal behind it.
As one top Trump campaign official is, “the investigators will be investigated,” and “the tables are turning,” which is something “the campaign will continue to point to.” Trump’s effort to unleash law enforcement on his political foes doesn’t just represent a newly aggressive push into authoritarianism. As Trump’s campaign is openly and casually proclaiming, it’s also key to his 2020 strategy.
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It’s strange, then, that Trump does not want special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to appear before Congress. After all, if he did, Trump’s Republican allies could subject him to their typically withering cross-examination skills, mercilessly unmasking the truth about the man at the center of this deep-state plot for all the nation to see.
Why on Earth would Trump willingly pass up such a fabulous opportunity?
Trump, calling on Mueller not to honor the Democratic request for his testimony. Trump claimed Mueller had found “NO COLLUSION” (a ) and “NO OBSTRUCTION” (a ) — and said: “No redos for the Dems!”
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Meanwhile, wethat Trump’s attorney general, William P. Barr, defied the deadline set by Democrats for releasing the full, unredacted Mueller report and underlying materials. Democrats are to hold Barr in contempt.
What ‘the tables are turning’ means
The idea that Trump is on offense against the investigators is encapsulated in the phrase “the tables are turning." This is a new Trumpworld talking point. Trump himselfthe only criminality involved in Russiagate was by Democrats.
Barr is apparently all in on this table-turning. Barrthe “spying” on Trump’s campaign, subtly propping up the idea that the probe was grounded in nefarious deep-state intent. Last week, Barr on the investigation’s genesis and that Hillary Clinton was the real colluder.
The 2020 election isn’t going to be close
Last week’s message from a booming economy should have rocked the Democratic field. Alas, the party seems collectively intent on poring over the Mueller report yet again in the hope that, somehow, someway, there’s something there. But the probe is over. No collusion. No obstruction. Democrats have to campaign on something else besides a great economy, rising values of savings, low unemployment across every demographic, clarity about allies and enemies abroad, and a rebuilding military.
Asand detail, Barr’s past ( the Iran-contra pardons) and his willingness to validate Trump’s narratives (he the ) raise reasonable suspicions that Barr will willingly carry out Trump’s authoritarian designs, whether for instrumental purposes or as a true believer.
You’d think Mueller’s congressional testimony would provide a great opening to build the case for doing so. Indeed,that some around Trump want Mueller to testify for precisely this reason:
The special counsel, they say, would most likely face tough questions from Republicans about two F.B.I. officials, Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, who in text exchanges were deeply critical of Mr. Trump as they were investigating Russian interference in the election. Those questions would undercut Mr. Mueller’s investigation, those close to the president say, and allow them to paint it as a partisan attack on Mr. Trump.
But the reality is that if and when Mueller does testify, it will all but certainly fortify the investigation’s legitimacy in the public mind, not undermine it. And it will likely deal another massive blow to Trumpworld’s alt-narrative.
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Opposition to Mueller testimony gives away the game
Trump probably can’t stop Mueller from testifying. Barr hashe’s open to it — only days ago, Trump even this was up to Barr to decide — but even if Barr shifted, Mueller soon will no longer be a Justice Department employee, meaning he’d likely be free to testify.
Indeed, Robert Bauer, the White House counsel under Barack Obama, pointed out to me that Trump has not said he’s directing Barr to prevent Mueller’s testimony, suggesting he sees the writing on the Capitol wall.
“I would assume his lawyers will be, or are, telling him (1) that he cannot put his attorney general, whom he would not want to lose, in the impossible position of having committed that Mueller would testify, only to be overruled by Trump and 2) resistance is futile, because eventually Mueller will testify,” Bauer emailed me.
If so, Trump’s tweets urging Mueller not to testify appear more feckless and panicky than anything else. But beyond this, Trump’s very opposition to it by itself gives away the game.
If and when Mueller does testify, he will likely reiterateof the genesis of the investigation: that the FBI initiated it after “a foreign government contacted the FBI about a May 2016 encounter with Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos,” in which Papadopoulos indicated Russia had offered to help the Trump campaign with damaging information on Clinton.
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Mueller may well publicly speak to the ways his report detailed how the Trump campaign “expected it would benefit electorally” from that Russian help, and the campaign’sto — yup — collude with it. If Mueller is asked why he declined to exonerate Trump on obstruction, he might somehow let it be known that he did, in fact, .
Nor is aggressive questioning of Mueller about those Strzok-Page texts likely to work for Trump. Remember: Each time this or that revelation about them was greeted by Trump as a “,” they .
It’s possible, of course, that Barr will carry out Trump’s authoritarian directive to investigate the investigators. But Mueller’s testimony won’t build the case for this effort. It will only reveal it as that much more corrupt and lawless.
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