J: Ho… Lee… SHIT.
T: How loudly is Trump screaming? His tweets have to be ballistic about this one.
J: No comment yet, but he absolutely has to be shitting little green bricks. The big thing, in my mind, is that Mueller sent the FBI. that means he’s looking into that $130K as a potentially illegal campaign contribution… I don’t think Trump, as a sitting president, can be prosecuted, but he can sure as hell be impeached.
T: I imagine somebody in Mueller’s office has to keep track of his tweets. Is there ANY chance he has never crossed the line? Mueller must sit in his office, wondering if he should file a class-action treason charge, putting all the hundreds of treasonous acts together under a single umbrella?
J: I’m sure he’s guilty of something; the trick is going to be proving it, but that might be much easier now that Mueller has his lawyer’s documents.
T: Can he use them?
Can he even look at them?
J: Yeah, Mueller had a warrant, so attorney-client privilege doesn’t apply
T: Mueller didn’t do the deed, did he? I thought he just tipped the FBI off.
J: I’m sure Cohen will say that privilege applies, but I’m pretty sure that if there’s a crime, like a campaign-finance violation, they can use the documents.
The warrant was issued at Mueller’s request; I just heard it on the news.
T: Boy, that’s some slippery ground, though, ain’t it?
J: It’s gonna be tricky, but Mueller is a pro; when he asked for the warrant, he knew exactly what he was looking for.
They don’t just hand out warrants; you have to show probable cause, so whatever Mueller has, it was enough to convince a judge to override attorney-client privilege and grant the warrant. So I would say it’s pretty airtight.
T: I don’t understand it as well as you do; probable cause overrules attorney-client privilege? I must have missed the appropriate Law and Order episode.
J: I think that to get the warrant, you have to tell the judge exactly what you’re going after, and you can get that and only that, nothing else would be admissible
T: Do you expect an aftershock to this? Possibly an arrest warrant by the end of the week?
J: I don’t know how soon it might come, but I think Cohen is going to be charged with perjury. Mueller interviewed him before, so anything that’s in those documents that doesn’t square with his prior testimony is going to be problematical to say the least.
T: Will Cohen turn? I don’t know much about him.
J: Cohen is Trump’s fixer. I think he’s loyal; I doubt he would turn unless he was looking at a serious stretch. Of course, if he gets charged with a bunch of counts of perjury, plus campaign-finance violations, that might be enough. But my guess is no, at least not without a pretty serious stick to go along with the carrot.
T: Yaknow what’s messed up? Mueller doesn’t need anyone to turn. Trump has been turning on himself for decades. All Mueller has to do is convince all those idiots that believe everything Trump tells them. He has to deprogram the cult.
J: You’re probably right. Mueller has enough dirt to impeach Trump, or he would have if the political environment hadn’t been completely overrun by the white nationalist base of the GOP. I mean, there’s no way GHW Bush would’ve survived these kinds of allegations. Hell, GW Bush probably wouldn’t have. But in the new GOP, it’s all fake news, even though it’s no doubt meticulously documented and probably sworn to under oath in a lot of cases.
T: I bet Mueller thinks about that a lot, too. He knows he can’t bring anything that isn’t rock solid, but he also knows that, even if his evidence is beyond reproach, Trump’s MAGA spewing public will let Trump go, just like the jury did OJ. Because they don’t want to believe, and they don’t think they have to.
J: Well, there’s a segment of the public that’s willing. Mueller isn’t, or shouldn’t be, trying to convince Trump’s base. There’s probably about 30 percent who wouldn’t believe anything Mueller put out under any circumstances. He should punt on those people and show the other 70 percent what he’s got. That would be enough to run the GOP out of power on the proverbial rail. And Ryan and McConnell know it, hence their increasingly desperate attempts to restrain Trump.
T: How would this play? Mueller indicts and convicts all the guys, like Manafort and Cohen, who tangibly broke the law. He presents his case, on every network and most cable networks, in prime time. He says Trump did not knowingly commit treason, but that he was treasonously reckless, and that he has repeatedly lied to the American public. He recommends that congress consider the 25th amendment, but makes no concrete accusation. He does not call for any specific action against Trump.
At the end of his speech, he looks straight into the camera and addresses the American people:
“Folks, you have been gullible, lazy and stupid. You made an emotional decision to vote for an obviously unqualified man for the highest office in the nation, without considering the facts. You have held stubbornly onto your provably false beliefs, not from a sense of patriotism, but because you did not want to admit you were wrong.”
“It is time to get back to the truth. It is time to take America back from those who have perverted the nation’s message for their own selfish ends. Thank you. America was already great, and it will be again. Good night.”
J: About 70 percent of the nation would love it. Jeff Bezos would probably pay for the national airtime. Trump would shit. Congress would almost have to impeach him.
T: “It is not my place to demand impeachment, and I do not see any point in trying President Trump for specific crimes. Based on my investigation, however, it is clear that the President has willfully and recklessly lied to the American public, on so many occasions that it would require another lengthy investigation to count them. Therefore, it is my belief that impeachment is warranted; not for treason, but for incompetence.”
J: Except that incompetence is not a crime. Impeachment isn’t intended to remove a president you just don’t like; if it were, every president would get impeached. Mueller probably can, and probably will at a time of his choosing, show that Trump has committed impeachable offenses, whether it’s obstruction of justice, conspiracy, perjury if he ever testifies in front of Mueller, campaign finance law violations, or foreign emoluments.
The question will be, what happens after that? At what point does the GOP cut and run, remembering Nixon? Do they persuade Trump to resign? Do they let the process play out, knowing that it’s going to suck up every molecule of media oxygen between whenever it happens and 2020? Does Trump resign on his own? Questions, questions…
T: Well, incompetence isn’t a crime, but it’s a fireable offense, isn’t it? Invoke the 25th amendment; the President is not fit to serve. Evidence? He is incapable of willfully telling the truth.
J: I would think the public – even the stubborn part of the public – understands that lying is a fireable offense. Even Trump’s diehard 30 percent should understand that you have to be able to rely on the President of the United States to tell the truth at least some of the time.
T: Did you see Trump’s responses? I saw two: In one, he said the raid was “disgraceful.” In the other said “many people” think he should fire Mueller. In other words, he’s about to commit treason again. Does he think he can fire Mueller and it’ll all just go away?
J: “Many people say” is his code for “I think”, as we well know. He can’t fire Mueller directly; he could order Rosenstein to, but Rosenstein would probably refuse and resign. Another Saturday Night Massacre. And, no, the probe would not stop even if Mueller was fired. Mueller might, on his way out the door, publicize what he has; that could be politically fatal to Trump, too.
T: How much does this make you sweat? Trump’s only recourse might be to start a civil war.
J: Not a civil war, but he might start something in Syria as a distraction. We might soon be living in a real-life “Wag the Dog”.
T: Well, is it possible Israel is the guilty party? That would be a mess.
J: It’s possible, which would make things a whole helluva lot stickier. But from Trump’s perspective, the distraction is the important thing. If we’re focused on Syria, we’re not thinking about Stormy or Mueller or impeachment. He’d be relying on America’s short attention span to save his ass. And he might just get away with it.
T: I would much rather this all cooled down, for now. Let’s not blow any chance of a big push against the GOP this fall, when the Supreme Court’s balance will be up for grabs.
J: I would too, but Trump probably feels cornered now and is bound to lash out. The chance of war somewhere is probably higher now than it’s been at any time in Trump’s presidency.
A war in Syria has almost no negatives for Trump; someone else (Assad) is the bad guy, Trump can wrap himself in the flag, and he gets the distraction he so desperately needs.
T: I don’t know if it’s a good idea for Trump to fire Mueller and start a war. He’s a draft dodger, and even his base – the lower end of it – believes Mueller is on the up-and-up.
J: There’s been talk of targeting Syria’s air force; that probably sounds reasonable to Trump, but it’s clearly an act of war and might bring Russia into the conflict as well.
T: How weird would it be to watch Trump get on television and declare Putin an enemy of the American people?
J: Putin: “Goddamn it Donald… I paid good money for you. What the hell is this?”
Here’s a good analysis from the WaPo; they call the Cohen raid “a bomb on Trump’s front porch.”
T: Does he fire Mueller?
J: If you held my feet to the fire, yes or no, I would say yes. It’s going to kick off a political firestorm, but I think Trump is pissed enough to do it.
T: FiveThirtyEight asked their usual “fire or smoke?” question again today. I like the segment, but it’s not the right characterization. It’s not fire or smoke; it’s “how much fire would generate this much smoke? Because until they cuff Trump and drag him out of the White House, it’s all smoke. His firing is literally the only actual fire. Everything short of that is smoke.
J: I think Mueller is getting to the red-hot coals, at least, and is getting ready to pour a bottle of lighter fluid on them.
T: Why do you think he passed it to the New York cops? Silver thinks it might be petty revenge for Trump’s treatment of the FBI.
J: I think he had to; as I understand it he couldn’t act on it directly because it wasn’t part of his mandate, but if he found evidence of an unrelated crime he can pass it on to the appropriate US Attorney’s office, and being that it was in New York, where Trump has had a lot of legal problems (Trump U was based there), the US Attorney was only too happy to take it.
T: What do you suppose the crime was? Did they find his fingerprints on Stormy’s butt cheeks?
J: The leaker says it’s bank fraud and campaign-finance violations.
They should have just let Stormy talk.
T: Are you sure they didn’t find his fingerprints on her implants or something? They’d be hard to miss. I’m pretty sure if they ever try to rub her out, drowning is out of the question.
J: Her lawyer’s got that CD; if anything happened to her he’d just publish the Presidential dick pic. No one wants to see that.
T: Sometimes I’m glad I’m old. I won’t be able to see that photo without glasses, and I’m sure as hell not putting them on to look at that.