“I’m de Wuller-de-Wust, an’ you’re de one I’m after!”
Uttered in a spooky, moaning, apparently disembodied voice, these were the words Br’er Rabbit repeatedly used in one of the Uncle Remus stories to scare the bejeebers out of Br’er Fox and other critters – who all acted like cowardly fools in response. These days, Donald Trump is acting as if he thinks special counsel Robert Mueller is the scary will-o’-the-wisp (in African lore, a sort of marsh-demon); and Trump is looking foolish in response.
Except that maybe Trump, unlike Br’er Fox, has good reason to be worried. Maybe Mueller is after him. Maybe he has Trump cornered. Maybe Trump’s only good option is to evacuate, lickety-split, down the road. And maybe he should do so sooner, rather than later, because otherwise the will-o’the-wisp will turn Trump’s whole manor inside out and leave Trump and Trumpland as hollow husks quivering in the passing wind.
(Please, no politically correct complaints that the Uncle Remus stories are racist; these stories, attributed to illiterate blacks, show a genius and insight into human nature every bit as rich and admirable as those of Aesop.)
Personally, I see Mueller as far more like a honey badger than a will-o’the-wisp. He’ll hunt Trump down and won’t let go.
A little background is in order. For two decades, in two Democratic presidencies and two Republican ones, I’ve had the Department of Justice (DoJ) wired (figuratively speaking). I reported information related to the Clinton scandals that nobody else did. I reported inside scoops, pro and con, on various DoJ matters under Bush. I repeatedly helped expose key shenanigans within the Obama DoJ. It doesn’t matter who is at the top; I get information from below.
Through my sources, I also know how to read the signs. And the signs point toward trouble for Trump. Moreover, Trump knows that he’s the one Mueller’s after. He knows that Mueller is interested in Trump’s opaque web of business dealings with shady characters related to Russia or its former satellite so-called “republics.” We know that one of them, the highly unsavory Felix Sater, has been cooperating with what has been called “an international investigation into an alleged money-laundering network” – and that Mueller reportedly has been looking into Sater’s former employer, the Bayrock Group.
So Trump, like Br’er Fox, is running scared.
Now Trump wouldn’t call it running. He thinks he is fighting back. His deliberate provocations, two Tuesdays in a row, one in an insane-looking press conference and another at the most disgusting (un-)presidential rally most of us have ever seen, are designed to foment discord – to divide, even if the divisions become so heated that violence might ensue.
What’s the goal? It’s a way to make his supporters even more angrily defensive on his behalf, and thus to add even more combustible elements into the mix, as if somehow Mueller will be warded off by an angry show of pro-Trump mob strength. Trump seems instinctively to believe that even if his overall number of supporters drops, the sheer passion of his remaining ones will somehow act as a deterrent to his pursuers.
Mueller will not be deterred.
Nor should he be.
And the rest of us will not be fooled. We know Trump is a hollow man. We know he is standing and trying to take his swings from rapidly eroding soil. And we know (forgive the mixed metaphors) that special prosecutors, unlike golf opponents on a course he himself owns, give no mulligans.
We know that the entire myth of Trump as great businessman, the myth of Trump as strong, the myth of Trump as invincible, is fake news. And inside his angry, frightened soul, Trump himself knows the same.
In fact, the Phoenix rally looked like the one, final attempt to revivify, from the ashes, Trump’s self-image as a fighter. From those ashes, he tried to re-fan the flames, to conquer by dividing the rest of us, and even to accuse his critics of not loving America.
Trump doesn’t even understand America.
And all the good and decent people of America, rapidly tiring of Trump’s infantile divisiveness, will become politically what Robert Mueller already is for Trump’s legal standing. We’re all a collective Wuller-de-Wust, and Trump’s the one we’re after. The only way he can escape is to resign.