Unexamined Premises

McCabe and Mr. Mueller

McCabe and Mr. Mueller
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

And so the plot thickens. With the abrupt firing of former deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe on Friday, the end game of the struggle between President Trump and the “resistance” has now begun in earnest. As my PJ colleague, Roger Simon, noted here:

From the FBI and across the intelligence agencies an astonishing number of people are going to find themselves accused, one can safely predict at this point, of some atrocious behavior in a free republic. And it will not just be the small change of Peter Strzok (the dimwitted director of counter-intelligence) and his gal pal Lisa Page. It will include—on one level or another—James Comey, Loretta Lynch, John Brennan, James Clapper, Susan Rice and, almost inevitably, Barack Obama, not to mention others known and unknown. All these people’s reputations will be damaged forever for the pathetic purpose of getting Hillary Clinton elected president and later for their determination to manipulate the FBI and intelligence agencies to wound as severely as possible Trump’s presidency.

How do we know the end is near? For one thing, by the squawks coming from those who have never accepted their loss at the ballot box in 2016, and who have done their best to obstruct, impede, and otherwise frustrate the duly elected president of the United States since even before his inauguration. Once again, we are hearing dire warnings from the usual suspects that McCabe’s firing was punitive (so what if it was?) and that the president shouldn’t dare to cashier grand inquisitor Robert Mueller, whose open-ended inquiry into… what, exactly?… has gone on for a year and has rounded up exactly nothing except a couple of transient business/political associates, a few small fry, and a ludicrous indictment of a bunch of Russians who will never spend a single day in an American courtroom.

A couple of recent Trump tweets set the tone:

Granted, we’re all prisoners in Plato’s Cave at the moment, watching shadow puppets on the wall and trying to figure out what they’re doing. But unless Mueller — the man, we should remember, who together with his protege, James Comey, hounded an innocent man, Steven Hatfill, during the 2001 anthrax-attack investigation — has some bombshell evidence of criminal collusion between the Trump campaign and “the Russians,” his rogue investigation is long past its sell-by date, and really does need to be shut down, for the good of the country and its orderly democratic processes.

In the face of the oceans of squid ink having been thrown up by some of the principals, most notably the sanctimonious, morally preening Comey, who just so happens to have a book coming out soon, that’s going to be politically tough. The Baby Boomer press will scream “Saturday Night Massacre” and hope to tar Trump with the shade of Tricky Dick Nixon. The Democrats will howl “obstruction!” and wave the bloody shirt of impeachment heading into the mid-terms this fall. Half the public will naturally assume that where there’s smoke there’s fire, and that Trump must be guilty of something.

Which has been the point of the Mueller investigation all along. When, shortly after the new administration took office, Jeff Sessions mistakenly recused himself from the whipped-up Russia frenzy invented by Hillary Clinton and the sore losers on the left, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller to lead a parameter-free investigation without so much as an allegation of a specific crime. The point was to place Trump in a box they didn’t think he could get out of. But is that true?

Conventional wisdom says the president has to take his beating in the stocks for as long as Mueller feels like keeping him there. But nothing about Trump is conventional and, on the evidence of this weekend, there’s no reason to think he feels himself constrained by such thinking. So what if he does order Rosenstein to shut down Mueller? Then what?

Then this: outrage. Foot-stamping. Maybe Rosenstein pulls an Elliot Richardson and resigns, and the firing order bumps down the chain of command until it gets to this year’s version of Robert Bork (whose later nomination to the Supreme Court was rejected by the vengeful Democrats). Then Mueller gets fired anyway. And then…

Nothing. The deed will have been done, half the country will breathe a sigh of relief, and the most visible symbol of the “resistance” will be gone. True, Trump and Sessions will still have to deal with various federal judges around the country chucking spanners into the policy works whenever they can, and eventually the state of California is going to have to be brought to heel. It’s possible that the electorate will indeed by outraged, and retaliate by sending scores of new Democrats to Washington. who will immediately launch “obstruction of justice” impeachment proceedings, crippling the Trump presidency well into the 2020 campaign season.

On the other hand, a reasonable case can be made that the Mueller “investigation” cannot simply go on for the entirety of the president’s first term, that it has no clearly stated objective, and that Robert Mueller, appointed by Rod Rosenstein, is not the constitutional superior of the president of the United States. (This is precisely what the White House comms shop ought to be working on right now, but probably isn’t.) That the electoral process and the provisions of the Constitution are the way we settle political differences, not the criminal-justice system. That Mueller should be given a date certain to bring charges about Russian meddling in the 2016 election and then disband his partisan maquis.

Harry Truman had a sign on his desk that said, “the buck stops here.” It’s time for Trump to put that back on display, bite the bullet, and do what’s best for the country.






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