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The Trumpian Game is On . . . Again

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We are now witnessing another Trumpian inversion, a pre-emptive assault on the new Special Counsel for the Russian investigation Robert Mueller aimed at undercutting any findings he ultimately comes out with which might, in the end, be deemed deleterious to President Donald J. Trump.

Trump’s own Deputy AG at the Justice Department selected Mueller and there was near universal approval for the choice at the time because Mueller was deemed beyond reproach.  But suddenly the long knives have come out for the guy. Something is worrying the Trump White House or else how explain this sudden barrage of attacks on Mueller from Trump surrogates and prominent supporters (Anne Coulter, Newt Gingrich and a bunch of other talking heads making the Fox News circuit)?

The truth is we can come up with something on nearly everyone to impeach them if we want to. The quality of that impeachment is irrelevant if the allegations become a meme by which we define and think about the person so impeached. Trump’s modus operandi has, in fact, been this, since the beginning: impeach those who challenge you by name calling or threats of lawsuits or just by publicly defaming them:

Low Energy Jeb
Little Marco
Lyin’ Ted
Crooked Hillary

When he doesn’t resort to name calling he uses other offensive characterizations, decrying Carly Fiorina and Rand Paul for their looks! What a joke that we, the voters, didn’t laugh him off the stage for such antics back when he first introduced them into the political discourse.

Nor is this new with Trump the politician. Back in the nineties, for instance, he used threats of lawsuits to force Janney, Montgomery, Scott, a brokerage house, to fire a financial analyst who had written a scathing report on his Atlantic City casino debt instruments. The analyst was forced to recant in a letter of apology to Trump and then he was fired anyway. Meanwhile the bonds he had panned turned out to be as bad as he had predicted and the casinos that had issued them went belly up, leading to one of Trump’s four famous bankruptcies. But who remembers that anymore, or other instances like it?

This is Trump’s modus operandi, honed to a brutal art form and  now turned on Robert Mueller. Attorney General Jeff Sessions ought to see how this is going and resign from the Trump cabinet rather than be party to this kind of travesty because if he stays Trump is going to destroy his credibility and reputation along with that of many others around him.

In this Russia probe matter, the truth seems to be that Trump wants to deep-six the recently appointed special counsel. It’s understandable why, of course. Special Counsels can be a thorn in any president’s side. But Trump only has himself to blame for blowing this issue up out of all proportion resulting in the appointment of a special counsel in the first place. And he probably has another reason for wanting to undermine Mueller’s credibility, as well, since he foolishly announced to the world, on national television during a press conference no less, that he’d be glad to be interviewed by Mueller under oath. That’s a real problem for him because, if he ends up lying under oath and that’s proved, he will have committed an impeachable offense for sure.

Trump’s after-the-fact testimony was never going to carry more credibility than Comey’s real time memo to the file in any event so he had no reason to tell the world he’d be glad to submit to an interview by Mueller and his investigators. It was totally unnecessary. But Trump has shown he never knows when to shut up.

So how’s he going to get out of actually having to be deposed and speak with Mueller now that he’s put his foot in his mouth again? The easy answer is create a furor to justify dumping Mueller before anyone can take him up on his foolish offer. So one way of seeing the rise in stories questioning Mueller’s integrity is as an effort to create a firestorm around Mueller’s bona fides by alleging that he’s tainted and getting others to parrot that line.

Make it a public meme and pretty soon Trump will be able to say, hey, Mueller is too badly damaged (never mind that Trump and company damaged him!) to conduct a fair and honest investigation so out he goes, the investigation shut down. It smacks of how he went after Comey just when the Democrats had begun blaming the guy publicly for Hillary’s loss, assuming he had cover through the negative press on Comey to sack the guy. But if he goes after Mueller in the same fashion we can all be pretty sure this time it won’t go down easily with the American public. Creating and using a pretext to shut down an investigation could be the final straw in Trump’s excellent adventure in Washington.

Many of us have argued until now that the investigation into suspected Trump campaign-Russian collusion was never likely to turn up anything. But Trump is now giving us reason to think that maybe there’s more there there than we thought!

About Stuart W. Mirsky

Stuart W. Mirsky, a former New York City official who last served as Assistant Commissioner for Operations in the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene before retiring in 2002, wrote a column, "The Rockaway Irregular," for The Wave, a south Queens based weekly, for more than a decade (until Hurricane Sandy changed the equation). He is an original founder of the Rockaway Republicans, one of the most active Republican groups in southern Queens, and author of a number of books, including The King of Vinland's Saga, an historical novel of the Norse in 11th century North America, A Raft on the River, a memoir of Holocaust survival, and Choice and Action, a work of contemporary philosophy addressing the implications of relativism and nihilism for our moral beliefs.

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