The White House looks for ways to quash Mueller’s probe
President Trump and his legal team are lashing out with increasing urgency at the special counsel’s investigation, with attorney Rudy Giuliani suggesting this week the White House will fight to keep much of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report from becoming public. The special counsel’s long-awaited conclusions would go to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has been responsible for overseeing the investigation since his boss, Jeff Sessions, recused himself in March 2017. Any release of the report would need to be approved by Rosenstein—or by a new attorney general if Sessions is replaced. Giuliani, however, said that Trump could compel Rosenstein to hold back much of it on grounds of executive privilege.
Trump last week announced that White House counsel Donald McGahn, who sat for some 30 hours of interviews with the special counsel, is leaving the White House. McGahn has reportedly intervened on two occasions to stop Trump from firing Mueller. Trump also continued his bullying of Sessions, this week disparaging the attorney general for failing to kill off criminal investigations of two Republican representatives—and Trump allies—under indictment for committing serious crimes. “Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time,” Trump tweeted. “Good job Jeff.” Several Republicans joined Democrats in disapproval. “The United States is not some banana republic,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said, “with a two-tiered system of justice--one for the majority party and one for the minority party.”
What the columnists said
The president and his defenders might sound feverish, but there is method behind Giuliani’s madness, said Jeffrey Toobin in The New Yorker. Giuliani’s supporters say “critics may be measuring his performance by the wrong standards.” When Mueller was appointed back in May 2017, polls “showed strong bipartisan support for the special counsel.” Giuliani and Trump’s tactic of constantly assailing and verbally assaulting Mueller’s office has now resulted in most Republicans seeing the investigation as partisan and illegitimate.
Actually, Mueller has outfoxed Trump, said Michael Wolraich in The Daily Beast. “The special prosecutor quietly and subtly played the president, who even now has no real clue what Mueller and his zipped-lipped crew are up to.” Mueller has played a game of manipulating and distracting with Giuliani and Trump. Trump won’t dare to make any moves so close to the midterms, so Mueller has at least another three months to keep working.
In fact, Trump seems to be doing everything possible to ensure the special investigation keeps going, said the National Review in an editorial. If he wanted the Senate to confirm a new attorney general to replace Sessions, then public calls for a “noxious politicization of the Justice Department” won’t help him. And just who will the president find to replace Sessions now that he’s made clear that “he conceives of an attorney general as a political loyalist guided by Donald Trump’s political needs and whims”?