TrumpWatch, Day 422: Trump Maintains Twitter Assault on Mueller Over Russia Inquiry

Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Donald Trump

Trump launches tweets while watching Fox and Friends


Developments on Day 422 of the Trump Administration:

Trump’s Attempt to Undermine Investigation

For the second day in a row, Donald Trump uses Twitter to attack Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team, raising suspicions that he may order the firing of Mueller in an attempt to halt the Trump-Russia investigation.

Trump stepped up the tweets on Saturday, a day after he sought to undermine the FBI with the dismissal of Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. For the first time he named Mueller as he proclaimed, “WITCH HUNT!”.

See TrumpWatch, Day 421: Trump Attacks Mueller’s Russia Investigation

Trump, while watching Fox and Friends, started Sunday with an unsupported charge against James Comey, whom he fired as FBI Director in May 2017 in an unsuccessful attempt to block the inquiry: “Wow, watch Comey lie under oath”. He tried to sweep away the difficulty that McCabe — denied a full Government pension because of the dismissal, 26 hours before he was due to retire — is cooperating with Mueller’s team and has given them notes of his discussions with Trump: “Spent very little time with Andrew McCabe, but he never took notes when he was with me.”

Then Trump named Mueller for the second time in a false claim:

Robert Mueller is a registered Republican and was named as FBI Director in 2001 by the Republican George W. Bush Administration. The only official who can formally dismiss Mueller, Deputy Director Rod Rosenstein, is also a Republican as is James Comey.

Thirteen of Mueller’s 19-member team are registered Democrats, and six have donated money to Democratic campaigns. Howevever, there is no evidence that the investigation has been affected by pro-Democrat bias.

The investigation has closed further on Trump in recent weeks with reports that the Special Counsel is looking at financial links between Trump’s inner circle and other foreign countries as well as Russia. A series of reports have highlighted the meeting of Trump’s son-in-law and White House advisor Jared Kushner and his father Charles with officials from Russia, the UAE, and Qatar to seek loans for troubled Kushner Companies projects.

Last week it was revealed that Mueller has subpoenaed financial records of the Trump Organization, crossing Trump’s red line against any investigation of the business affairs of him or his family.

On Saturday, Trump’s lawyer John Dowd told The Daily Beast that, speaking on behalf of the President, he was praying for the end of the Russia inquiry. Dowd later backed away, saying he was commenting in a personal capacity, while repeating his “prayer”.

GOP Concern But Trump “Emboldened”

Republican legislators expressed concern on Sunday over Trump’s outburst and cautioned him not to move against Mueller. Senator Lindsey Graham said, “If he tried to do that, that would be the beginning of the end of his presidency, because we’re a rule-of-law nation.” Senator Jeff Flake echoed, “People see [this] as a massive red line that can’t be crossed.”

Both Graham and Flake have been vocal critics of Trump. But they were joined by Trey Gowdy of the House Intelligence Committee: “Let it play out its course. If you’ve done nothing wrong, you should want the investigation to be as fulsome and thorough as possible.”

And House Speaker Paul Ryan warned Trump to back away. “As the speaker has always said, Mr. Mueller and his team should be able to do their job,” said Ryan’s spokeswoman AshLee Strong.

But current and former White House officials and Trump friends indicated that he will be undeterred. They said that, as he fires staff like Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and others like top economic advisor Gary Cohn and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster resign or are threatened, Trump is “newly emboldened to say what he really feels and to ignore the cautions of those around him”.

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

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