John Colson: If Trump fires Mueller, will that be the end?
Hit & Run
Ever had one of those days when events seem determined to undercut any and all plans you had before the events unfolded?
Monday was one of those for me. I had an entirely different topic in mind for this column, but over the weekend developments in the ongoing saga of Donald Trump versus The World got in my way.
As many must know by now, our president spent the weekend lobbing Twitter bombs at Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller and his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election on Trump’s behalf, as well as other matters.
The Twitter bombing, of course, was due to the “other matters” targeted by Mueller, specifically Trump’s financial dealings, and even more specifically Trump’s financial dealings with Russian oligarchs, the fascist political machine of Russian President Vladimir Putin, etc. — though Trump did not admit that.
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Instead, he stuck to his endlessly repeated (and serially disproven) claims that the Mueller investigation is a “witch hunt” based on the controversial Steele Dossier.
The dossier, most of us know, was compiled by veteran spy and respected Russia expert Christopher Steele, which Trump says was initiated by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and was the sole cause for former FBI Director James Comey to begin looking into Russia-Trump links in the first place (until Trump fired him over the Russia probe).
As we all now know, what ultimately became the Steele Dossier, which alleged sexually deviant behavior and other, even more unacceptable connections between Trump and Russia, was initially commissioned by an organization financed by Republican Paul Singer, who apparently was part of the GOP’s “Never Trump” movement until it became clear that Trump would win the Republican nomination.
It was only then that Singer backed out, and the Fusion GPS firm, which had contacted Steele on behalf of Singer, convinced Clinton campaign officials to fund the continuing research into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Just to press the point home, it was Republicans who got this “Russia thing” going. Democrats only got involved after it became apparent to Fusion GPS and Steele that there was something going on that ought to be investigated further.
There is a wealth of information out there about what the “something” was that intrigued investigators — ongoing pursuit of Trump by Russian intelligence officials going back to the 1980s disguised as business relations; meetings between Trump campaign higher-ups and Russian officials before and after the election; lingering suspicions about the reliability of the infamous “piss tape” showing Trump’s alleged dalliance with Russian prostitutes in Moscow; and much more, so much more that I can’t even begin to trot it out in one column.
Maybe there’s a series of columns to be done at some future point, laying all of this out clearly, I don’t know. But there are plenty of books and magazine articles out there, available to anyone interested in the subject, and I heartily suggest readers check them out. It is fascinating.
Anyways, Trump has his, ah … whatever … caught in a wringer by all this, and last week the Mueller probe subpoenaed financial records and information from the Trump Organization — an act that crossed a “red line” that Trump had established back in 2017.
No one is sure exactly what the subpoenas might be targeting, but it’s sure to seek detailed records about Trump’s business dealings with various Russians and Russian-connected banks in Germany and other locales.
And it might very well include a demand to see Trump’s tax returns from years past — who knows how far back that might go.
If that turns out to be so, the U.S. electorate might finally get a glimpse at something we’ve been clamoring about since 2016, when Trump first promised to show us his tax returns but then reneged on that promise.
Letting voters see a presidential candidate’s tax returns from the recent past is something most candidates have done as a matter of course, until Trump decided he was above all that and did not have to follow democratic norms of any kind.
In the wake of the subpoenas, Trump’s attorney immediately called for an end to the Mueller probe, something Trump never did regarding the lackadaisical “investigative” congressional committees supposedly looking at the “Russia thing” but controlled by his lap-dog Republican leadership.
Which goes a long way to showing exactly how much Trump fears what Mueller may find and reveal, just as he never feared what the congressional committees would do.
And it shows that he might actually make the move that everyone, even members of his own party, have warned him against — firing Mueller.
Such an arrogant act might lead to the result that so many of Trump’s critics have called for, however tepidly: impeachment.
I say “tepidly” for a good reason — many who want Trump out at almost any cost are balking at the one absolutely foreseeable result that would come with Trump’s ouster; the installation of a religious absolutist and right-wing zealot, Vice President Mike Pence, in the Oval Office.
Ever since Pence was picked I have believed that he is there for one reason only — Trump suspected he might run afoul of the law, or voter discontent, or the federal government’s conflict regulations, or something, and face the possibility of impeachment.
So he picked a man whose very face, not to mention every act he ever made as a public official, and deep-seated religious fervor, would give pause to even the most ardent advocate of impeaching Trump.
Because the last thing we need, in the wake of Trumpism and its degrading impact on our democracy, is a budding theocracy such as was deeply dreaded by the framers of the U.S. Constitution.
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