We often wonder where these presidential pronouncements come from. Are they planned strategy or just off-the-cuff whims from a man who is never told no? We’ll go with the latter.
Yesterday’s interview with reporters from Reuters is still rattling around Washington. The headline from the wire service was about how Donald Trump thought giving an interview to team Mueller could be a “perjury trap.” But he and his legal team have intimated that for months. The interesting part of the interview was when Donald Trump said he could take over the Mueller investigation if he wanted to. Yikes.
“I can go in, and I could do whatever — I could run it if I want. But I decided to stay out,” he said. “I’m totally allowed to be involved if I wanted to be. So far, I haven’t chosen to be involved. I’ll stay out.”
The very idea that the President is thinking about taking control of an investigation that targets HIM is … well, we’re running out of adjectives.
Trump just said that he can begin "running the Mueller probe" whenever he wants.
Counter-point: HE 100% CANNOT.
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) August 21, 2018
Business Insiders reports:
“Constitutional law experts say Trump has some options if he wants to exert control over the Russia investigation.
‘He’d have to convince Rosenstein or Sessions to change the rules around who controls this, or he’d have to fire Sessions or Rosenstein and find someone who is willing to do what he wanted,’ Sam Erman, a University of Southern California professor who specializes in constitutional law, told Business Insider on Monday.”
Erman went on to say, “It’s hard to see how anybody can be the judge in their own case, much less him.”
When Trump says “I . . . could run” the Mueller probe “if I want,” he opens a window into the mind of an autocrat, someone with no sense of legal limits on his own power. No such person can be trusted with the powers of the presidency. https://t.co/k4fISFOSkK
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) August 21, 2018
Many legal analysts are questioning whether to take the statement literally or to instead about read between the lines. Perhaps Trump is setting the stage for what he truly has planned. ABC legal analyst Dan Abrams says:
“This is a special counsel. An outside counsel, independent counsel. If the president’s running that investigation, it’s no longer independent. It’s no longer outside and it’s no longer special so that’s not going to happen. I guess in theory he could certainly end the investigation if he wanted to instruct someone, order someone to fire Rosenstein, to fire Mueller to shut down the investigation. He could do that and then you have the Saturday night massacre which happened with Nixon.”
This statement by Trump could be used by Mueller to show Trump is considering actively interfering in the investigation. He went through the trouble of finding out whether he could take over and run the investigation himself. There's no reason to do that unless it's on the table. https://t.co/bKbxPgHfUC
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) August 20, 2018
Folks realize that Trump is only waiting for the midterms to pass to Fire Rosenstein and Mueller right?
— Armando (@armandodkos) August 20, 2018