The Beltway chatter over whether President Trump can last his full four-year term in office grew to a fervor last night after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special prosecutor to investigate Russian government influence and possible Trump campaign collusion in the 2016 presidential election “and related matters.”
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) spoke for many of us when he told Bloomberg TV on Tuesday: “I think we could do with a little less drama from the White House on a lot of things so that we can focus on our agenda, which is deregulations, tax reform and repealing and replacing Obamacare.” Indeed, since taking the Oval Office, Trump hasn’t had a firm grasp on his messaging, and perhaps the appointment of Mueller could be the intervention he needs to button down his approach to governance and move it in a policy-focused style that would fulfill the promises he made to those “forgotten men and women” who carried him to victory.
Even though reports suggest the Trump White House was grim over this news, Mueller, an experienced public servant with a stellar track record, could actually play a stabilizing role for Trump by instituting a formal and objective process to finally address these dark allegations swirling around the White House. Yet the drama McConnell referenced has as much do with Trump as his vociferous critics, who are ignoring the judicial principles of due process, facts, and of our bedrock system ensuring that Americans, including their loathed Trump, are innocent until proven guilty.
If the Mueller investigation does find illegal collusion with the Trump campaign, then Congress would obviously need to enact appropriate punishment. Thus far, however, the firing of FBI Director James Comey and subsequent leak of his FBI memo calls into question the validity of the allegations around Trump, who was well within his legal rights to dismiss Comey for the reasons outlined in Rosenstein’s memo–including disrupting FBI protocol by publicizing non-public information. If Comey suspected that Trump committed obstruction of justice during a dinner in which Comey alleges that Trump asked him to stop his investigation of Michael Flynn, then Comey was under a legal duty to report this. He did not. There’s also the fact that acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe has confirmed that there was no obstruction of the investigation around Russia and that the FBI has the resources it needs.
Trump is under fire for passing sensitive information during a single meeting with Russian officials (an action that is legal, even if unwise), even as his predecessor pardoned jailed Chelsea Manning, a felon prosecuted under the Espionage Act for illegally releasing hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents. The liberal hypocrisy abounds–Manning’s actions were overtly illegal whereas Trump clearly acted within his authority.
After The Washington Post dropped the original story on Trump allegedly discussing this highly-classified information with Russian officials, reportedly the newsroom erupted into self-congratulatory applause as Web traffic to their site surged. This sort of advocacy and cheerleading is exactly why Trump voters detest liberal, Post-esque outlets: they rush to judgement and conclusions in the guise of the public interest.
Trump needs to surround himself with people he is willing to trust and listen to. Many voters skeptical of him saw him listening to men like Gen. James Mattis and H.R. McMaster as a positive step on defense issues. He’s not doing the same thing on domestic political or intelligence matters. If he doesn’t, it could prove perilous for his presidency’s future.