Trump’s getting scared

The Mueller investigation is drawing ever closer to Trump, whose administration is simply coming apart at the seams. It’s accomplished nothing save appointing a Supreme Court judge as right-wing as Scalia, and people are fleeing the government like rats from a sinking ship. We may live to see Trump impeached for obstruction of justice, something that (although it would make Pence President for three years), wouldn’t make me shed any tears.

And so, this morning, Trump lashed out at Mueller:

Mueller has already gotten four indictments and one guilty plea. And isn’t Trump aware that he’s a Republican?

So let’s have a poll. Are we in for another Saturday Night Massacre à la Nixon? Does Trump have the moxie to fire Mueller? I’m saying no, but you may feel differently. After all, if Trump is anything, he’s hot-headedly unpredictable.
Vote!

 

105 Comments

  1. GBJames
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    “No Opinion” (I don’t know).

    • Rita
      Posted March 18, 2018 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      +1

  2. Posted March 18, 2018 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    I think he will. He’s convinced himself that everyone’s out to get him. He also seems to really believe the lies that he tells himself. In his world, he’s totally innocent and Mueller deserves to be fired. Eventually he won’t listen to the advice of his lawyers and he will fire him.

    There’s another factor that will loom larger and larger as November approaches. Right now, he would likely survive any attempt to impeach him. If he’s going to fire Mueller, he needs to do it before he loses Congress to the Dems.

    • Posted March 18, 2018 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      I agree. The high turnover rate of his closest staff suggests that he doesn’t value contradictory views. He’s also demonstrated himself to be incredibly erratic. He could fire Mueller with a tweet at 3:00 am.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted March 18, 2018 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

      Although I agree with your characterization of Trump, he doesn’t have the authority to fire Mueller. Rosenstein would have to do it (because Sessions has recused himself). If Trump ordered Rosenstein to do it I expect him to resign rather than comply. Then a new person could be appointed who would be prepared to fire Mueller. (What happened with Nixon basically.)

      Trump wants to get Mueller fired, but has apparently been warned against it multiple times. He will keep trying to find a way to make it happen. Even if he succeeds, that doesn’t stop the work of the investigation, or change what they’ve found and done so far.

      I voted no, but if there are enough changes in the administration, there may not be people left who can stop him losing what little control he has.

      • Posted March 18, 2018 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

        When I refer to Trump firing Mueller, I mean via the circuitous route. Perhaps he could fire Sessions and replace him with someone more compliant. There are other possibilities.

        You are right that the investigation would likely go on without Mueller but it is also possible that Mueller’s firing be accompanied by some sort of fabricated justification that also serves to end the investigation, substantially limit it, or throw shade on what it has already discovered. It is also possible that Mueller’s replacement, while independent, is less careful than Mueller at protecting the process from those who would derail it.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted March 20, 2018 at 3:45 am | Permalink

          I thought you probably did, though it’s surprising how many don’t which is why I mentioned it. I should have expressed myself more clearly! Sorry.

          • Posted March 20, 2018 at 11:25 am | Permalink

            No apology needed.

            • Heather Hastie
              Posted March 22, 2018 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

              Cheers mate.

      • tomh
        Posted March 18, 2018 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

        “Then a new person could be appointed who would be prepared to fire Mueller. (What happened with Nixon basically.)”

        That’s not quite what happened with Nixon. When Nixon ordered the AG to fire the Special Prosecutor, the AG resigned. He then went to the next in line the Deputy AG, who also resigned. Next in the chain of command was the Solicitor General, Robert Bork, who, as the Acting AG, complied and fired the Special Prosecutor.

        Trump’s problem is that only someone who has been confirmed by the Senate can fire Mueller. If Rosenstein refused to fire Mueller and resigned, the chain of command looks like this and Trump would have to go down the line until he found someone who would do the deed :

        Solicitor General Noel Francisco (confirmed in September)
        Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel Steven Engel (confirmed in September)
        U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina Robert Higdon Jr. (confirmed in September)
        U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox (confirmed in November)

        Another possibility is that he could fire Rosenstein and replace him with any other already-Senate-confirmed administration official (Pruitt, for instance, from the EPA) under the Vacancies Reform Act of 1998. However, it’s not at all clear that that Act applies to someone who is fired, and it would certainly end up in court. Simplest, for Trump, would be if Rosenstein fired Mueller, and I think that’s a real possibility, regardless of what he’s said in the past.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted March 20, 2018 at 3:44 am | Permalink

          Yeah, I knew there was a whole chain with Nixon. Thanks fir thst list if positions. Useful info – I hope it doesn’t become needed!

  3. Diana MacPherson
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    If Trump is impeached, I wonder what will happened since so many people will feel he was just forced out by elites. I wonder if America will be in for civil unrest.

    • Posted March 18, 2018 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      I worry about that too. I think it depends a lot on what Mueller’s report has to say. It may make it obvious to all that massive collusion with Russia took place. On the other hand, if the only claims against Trump and others are obstructions of justice, then they will get a pass from the current Congress and half the country as they feel that lying to avoid unfairness is no crime.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted March 18, 2018 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

        I worry as well. Trump has also conditioned many not to believe the media, so they won’t trust any evidence of his wrongdoing if it’s found.

      • gormenghastly
        Posted March 18, 2018 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

        Lying to avoid unfairness? Don’t make me laugh; they believe that lying to gain an unfair advantage is good politics.

  4. Posted March 18, 2018 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    First, he’s not going to be impeached by this congress. And if he is by the next one, he won’t be convicted by the next one. So any talk about impeachment isn’t going anywhere anyway. Impeachment is not a criminal trial, it’s a political trial, and this country isn’t at that point yet.

    • GBJames
      Posted March 18, 2018 at 11:30 am | Permalink

      “And if he is by the next one, he won’t be convicted by the next one.”

      I’m not sure you have a handle on how it works. You don’t need two Congresses for this. It is all done by one Congress. First the House votes articles of impeachment. Then the Senate holds the trial.

      I agree that this Congress is not going to impeach. It is controlled by Republicans who are incapable of putting country before party interests. The next Congress might very well behave differently. We can hope that they take their duties more seriously than this Congress does.

      • Chris Helland
        Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

        While impeachment requires only half of the House of Representatives, conviction requires > 2/3 of the Senate (67 votes). It’s unlikely the Democrats will have even half of the Senate in the next Congress, simply because very few Republican seats are in play for 2018. So a successful impeachment requires powerful enough evidence to really drive even Republicans to convict. It will have to be enough to overcome the partisanship. Any bets?

        • ploubere
          Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

          Very low probability. Which is why Trump will fire Mueller, he knows he’ll get away with it.

        • Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

          Perhaps “convict” is not technically the right word. “Remove from office” works for me though.

          I wouldn’t take the bet. This Congress has ventured too far from the rule of law to get rid of Trump. The best we can hope for is public disgust of this administration and Congress to the level that supporting Trump is death at the polls. That is the only thing that will get their attention at this point.

      • Posted March 18, 2018 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

        I know exactly how this works and stand by my statement. To begin articles of impeachment, you have to get the house to vote for them. Not even the democrats are united in this yet. So it won’t happen in this congress.

        Everyone’s hope seems to be that the next congress will bring articles after the Blue Wave sweeps the Rs from power in the house. But even if they do, and the Democrats win every single senate seat up for election, they still won’t have 2/3s of the senate so there will be no conviction.

        • GBJames
          Posted March 18, 2018 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

          I misread your comment. It seemed you were saying two congresses were a requirement for impeachment to work.

          • Posted March 19, 2018 at 5:07 am | Permalink

            That’s the way it reads to me. Thank you both for clarifying.

  5. Stephen Barnard
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Technically, Trump can’t fire Mueller. He’d have to fire Rosenstein and replace him with a toady who would fire Mueller. But I wouldn’t put it past him to just fire Mueller and ignore the niceties. As soon as Kushner or Don Jr. are indicted he’ll act, if not before.

    There are bipartisan bills before the House and the Senate that would appoint Mueller as an independent special prosecutor in the event he were fired without cause. I suggest a more important question is whether the Republicans will have the courage and ethical responsibility to even bring them to a vote.

    • tomh
      Posted March 18, 2018 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      “But I wouldn’t put it past him to just fire Mueller and ignore the niceties.”

      The only way he could directly fire Mueller would be to reverse the DOJ regulations that Mueller was appointed under. Which, as head of the executive branch, he could legally do. But I think this would set off a bigger political firestorm than simply firing Rosenstein and going down the line until he finds someone who would fire Mueller.

    • Posted March 18, 2018 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      When they say “Trump will fire Mueller”, I think most people mean via the circuitous process you mention, not directly. It seems doubtful he’d try to fire him directly as he has the longer route open to him and it provides him some cover.

    • mordacious1
      Posted March 18, 2018 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      He doesn’t have to fire Rosenstein, he can fire Sessions. The new AG won’t be recused and Rosenstein goes back to doing other stuff.

  6. LB
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    I hope desperately that I’m wrong, but I do think the Angry Cheeto will fire Mueller. It will create even more chaos in the government than Mueller reaching the conclusion that Trump should be impeached/prosecuted for his crimes.

  7. Randall Schenck
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Like you, I must vote no as well. It is not a hard no, because when we attempt to guess the actions of a deranged idiot, the standard deviation is hard to predict. He knows if that trigger is pulled it could be the end for him. Yes, I know others will say the republican stooges will not act but I think they would be forced to in that case.

    There was and is so much collusion with the Russians it is almost a solid laugh every time Trumps gives us that no collusion crap. And so, we can thank Facebook and Cambridge Analytica for their continued help in manipulating the masses and assisting the republicans everywhere. Facebook just proves that it is most important the money flows in and to hell with privacy for anyone.

    • Posted March 18, 2018 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      I fear that the “collusion” they are accused of amounts to only taking advantage of the Russians’ actions to destabilize the US. Or that the collusion is only at some really low level in his campaign. I worry that is going to be hard to prove that Trump actively supported some nastiness perpetrated by friend of his campaign. I do hope he’s guilty of something as he is one disgusting individual and has no business being president. And I don’t forgive those that elected him.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted March 18, 2018 at 11:59 am | Permalink

        We have to remember that collusion by itself is not a crime but obstruction of justice is. There are many examples of the obstruction and I would refer you to the new book – Russian Roulette for many examples of both. The illegal contacts between Russia and Trump and his people are too many to count. But any of these things are cause for impeachment. For example, proof that Trump was continuing to deal with Russia on a building in Moscow while running for president would be a crime. And finally, the guy would does have all the facts and evidence is not writing books or talking to anyone and that is what is killing Trump.

        • GBJames
          Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

          For most of us, I think, “collusion” is shorthand for “Conspiracy to defraud the United States” which very much is a crime.

          (I’m awaiting my turn for Russian roulette which is currently in the protective custody of my wife.)

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

            If you define it that narrowly then it would be a crime but we could be talking about many forms. Wikipedia even says “sometimes”

            If Russians contact you (as a member of the Trump campaign) and say they have thousands of emails and other dirt from the Clinton campaign and you say great, bring it on, lets have more meets and talk about this. What do you call it? If you send one or more of your campaign people out to some Island in the middle of no-where to meet with Russians to discuss setting up back channel communications with them….what do you call it? And of course, if you fire the director of the FBI because he is investigating you for contact with the Russians, how is that not obstruction. Especially when you tell everyone why you fired him.

            I mean, we now know the Russians hacked the DNC and Clinton. We know this down to the individuals who did it and have issued inditements. Trump’s people knew about this hacking before anyone and we know this. I think Mueller is now working on much more serious stuff – the illegal loans to Trump from sanctioned Russian banks. The tons of money laundering and so on.

        • Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

          Right but collusion is an impeachable offense and it is something that Congress and the public won’t like at all, as opposed to mere obstruction of justice.

          • GBJames
            Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

            Well, anything is an impeachable offense of the House decides it is. Impeachment proceedings are a political process not a criminal one.

            “Collusion” is kind of a general term. The dictionary says “secret or illegal conspiracy”, so it covers both criminal acts and those that wouldn’t rise to that level.

      • Mark R.
        Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

        Mueller is looking into Trump’s businesses now…the ‘red line’ that Trump already mentioned couldn’t be crossed. Collusion isn’t a crime anyway; money laundering though, that’s another matter entirely.

        • Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

          When it comes to the president, we are not going to be able to convict him of crimes. The goal is impeachment. However, when it comes to support for impeachment, it will help if what the president has committed would be a crime if committed by anyone else.

          • Posted March 19, 2018 at 7:58 am | Permalink

            What is the situation in the USA? If Trump was found to have laundered money or evaded taxes before becoming president, does he have some sort of immunity from the normal legal process? Could he be arrested and put on trial for crimes committed before becoming president whilst serving as president?

  8. DrBrydon
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    I voted ‘yes,’ but I think the question is put wrongly. I don’t think Mueller would ever indict the President. He may indict any number of close associates, but at the end of the day, he would hand his stuff over to Congress for impeachment. That said, I don’t think Trump would stand for an indictment of say, Jared Kushner, or for Mueller indicting counsellors that Trump has not, yet, turned against. The President is right to think that he is being targeted (that’s what prosecutors do), but wrong to think that he is being treated unfairly. If he wanted Hillary in the hot seat, he should have stepped aside before the election.

  9. Posted March 18, 2018 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    This Congress is in collusion with him. And fear him. As to “And isn’t Trump aware that he’s a Republican?” he simply doesn’t care what he says of does, he just likes the drama and attention.

  10. Posted March 18, 2018 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    I think, seasoned as he is, he will look for some wrinkle in the space -time continuum to pull some stunt designed to fool confuse, distract all or enough of the people and then the whole blanket will come tumbling down and smother him. He seems progressively caught between a rock and a hard place and the longer he waits the less manoeuvrability he will have.The McCabe affair is beyond clumsy.

  11. phoffman56
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    As for the question, I don’t think Mueller can indict, can he?
    As a non-Usian, it’s not my business to vote.
    For them and their idiotic widespread mostly internal moronic attitudes such as those on health, and guns, and wealth distribution, and social safety nets, they’ve made their own bed, so can sleep in it. Pence won’t be different there.
    Also Pence won’t be any better on climate change, which threatens everybody else and their grandchildren, not just the idiots who elect that type, or can’t be bothered to vote, or wouldn’t at least shut up Clinton criticisms until after Trump was out of the picture.
    But maybe Pence will reduce the considerable recently increased threat of thermonuclear annihilation, a second thing not just internal to the US. On the other hand, maybe the opposite, especially if it more likely starts in the Middle East and fits in with his Christian ‘rapture’.
    Also, wouldn’t Pence succeeding the Drumpf make another Republican getting in next time much more likely?

    • phoffman56
      Posted March 18, 2018 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      Sorry, I was confusing “indict” with “impeach”, so I guess Mueller can.

    • Martin X
      Posted March 18, 2018 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      It’s generally accepted that you can’t indict a sitting President.

      As for Pence making it more likely the Rs will win again in 2020, who knows? The GOP platform wasn’t and isn’t popular and it’s not what Trump ran on. Pence isn’t likely to appeal to those who love Trump.

  12. mordacious1
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    The answer, of course, is “No”, since it would be unconstitutional for him to indict a sitting president. Ken Starr felt he could, but he was an independent counsel, unlike Mueller. This is why Sessions recused himself, Mueller’s report will end up on his desk.

    It will be up to Congress to proceed with impeachment. Good luck with that.

    • GBJames
      Posted March 18, 2018 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      This is not clear. It seems a sitting president is subject to criminal indictment for crimes that happened before he was sworn in.

      • mordacious1
        Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

        So…who is going to indict? Mueller can’t, because that’s beyond his purview. The deputy AG won’t, because the OLC has said it’s unconstitutional. Who then? Again, Starr was an independent counsel, unlike Mueller.

        • GBJames
          Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

          Many of the things that Mueller is looking into are state crimes. Presidents have no protection from being charged with state crimes. Like money laundering in New York or New Jersey, to pick two obvious possibilities.

          • Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

            Good point! It is easy to forget that.

          • Historian
            Posted March 18, 2018 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

            In addition, I believe a president can be indicted for federal crimes committed in office once he leaves the presidency. This is why Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon after Nixon resigned. Would Pence do the same for Trump? I think so.

        • tomh
          Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

          “So…who is going to indict?”

          A grand jury indicts, just as has been done so far for Manafort, Russians, etc.

          • mordacious1
            Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

            Again, that would have to involve Rosenstein, who has been told by the OLC that indicting a sitting president is unconstitutional. I doubt if Rosenstein would ignore his own legal council.

            We shall see.

    • tomh
      Posted March 18, 2018 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      Legal opinion is divided on whether a sitting president can be indicted. The NYT published a memo from Starr’s investigation into Clinton, considered the most thorough government-commissioned analysis rejecting the general view that presidents cannot be prosecuted while serving their terms.

      “It is proper, constitutional, and legal for a federal grand jury to indict a sitting president for serious criminal acts that are not part of, and are contrary to, the president’s official duties,” the Starr office memo stated. “In this country, no one, even President Clinton, is above the law.”

      • mordacious1
        Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

        Starr’s opinion is an opinion among many. Unless he gets the robe, it’s just an opinion. (Also, see my statement above)

        • GBJames
          Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

          Since it hasn’t been adjudicated, it carries more weight than other “just an opinions”.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted March 18, 2018 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      It’s an open constitutional question whether a sitting US president can be indicted while in office. There is no precedent for it, one way or the other, and there are (as I understand it) conflicting memoranda on the topic that have been prepared over the years by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. If a sitting president can be indicted, such an indictment could be returned by a federal grand jury at the request of a special counsel like Robert Mueller just as readily as it could at the request of an independent prosecutor. AG Jeff Sessions would play no role in that process, since he’s recused himself from the entire matter.

      • tomh
        Posted March 18, 2018 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

        However, under the rules Mueller was appointed by, Rosenstein would have to sign off on seeking an indictment.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted March 18, 2018 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

          Sure, as he has on the six indictments of 22 defendants Mueller has sought and obtained so far.

          Pace our host’s statement in the OP, Mueller has obtained five guilty pleas thus far — Papadopoulos, Flynn, Gates, Richard Pinedo, and Alex van der Zwaan.

          • mordacious1
            Posted March 18, 2018 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

            None of those guys are the POTUS and so there is no constitutional problem indicting them.

            • tomh
              Posted March 18, 2018 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

              There’s no doubt that Trump could be indicted, providing Mueller could get the AG office to approve, the question would be whether the courts would throw it out. With the current Supreme Court it seems likely it would not stand. Given all this, I seriously doubt if Mueller would ever try for that. It would be enough to indict those nearest and dearest to Trump.

            • Posted March 18, 2018 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

              Can someone explain what is meant by “you can’t indict a sitting president”? And by this I mean the limits. Trump made his famous “I could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and not lose votes.” statement. I presume we could indict him for that. Or could he pardon himself before they slapped the cuffs on? Exactly WHAT can’t we indict him for and do the Supremes have the ability to make that call?

              Another phrase people love to throw around is “constitutional crisis”. What, exactly, does that mean and how would I know it if I see it?

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted March 18, 2018 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

                The argument is that it is inherent in our constitutional structure of government that a sitting president cannot be indicted so long as he or she remains in office. This argument is not universally accepted; there is a substantial dissenting view. Since there is no precedent on the issue, were a sitting president to be indicted, the issue would have to be resolved by SCOTUS.

                It is a similar unresolved constitutional question whether a president has the power to pardon himself. Even were it to be decided that a president has such authority, that president would not be immune from prosecution for state crimes in state court. (Many states — including New York and Virginia — have penal statutes that parallel the federal laws Donald Trump might be subject to prosecution for violating.)

              • Posted March 18, 2018 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

                I find it disgusting that both of these things are questions we may have to answer. It seems obvious to me that the president should be subject to the same laws, penalties, etc. that apply to all citizens. And why should the president have the right to pardon anyone that has committed crimes? They should have consulted me when they wrote the US Constitution. They got most of it right but there are definitely some problems. And don’t get me started on the stupidity of the Second Amendment!

      • mordacious1
        Posted March 18, 2018 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

        I think you’re wrong about Mueller’s ability to request an indictment from the grand jury. That’s the way it was during the Starr era, but Congress changed the law after that. Currently, IMO, the request would have to come from Rosenstein who would have to ignore the OLC. Right now, all Mueller can do is investigate, write it all up in a report and give it to Rosenstein.

        Furthermore, Trump can fire Sessions and do an end run around Rosenstein.

      • Posted March 19, 2018 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

        Under what legal framework are the “no, he can’t” arguments created under?

  13. alexander
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Trump: Schrödinger’s cad?

  14. Posted March 18, 2018 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    ‘…. he’s hot-headedly unpredictable.”

    Such diplomacy.

    The man is best understood as functionally insane, a walking, talking, delusional nutbag.

    I don’t think he’ll be impeached. I think he’ll just wear himself out and give up the presidency in some ridiculous way. My real hope is that I’ll be able to watch the moron being dragged out of the WH in a straight jacket by federal marshals, live on every cable network channel for a month, including the Jim Bakker Show.

  15. Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Trump’s also appointed a huge number of lower court judges.

  16. Mark R.
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    I voted ‘Yes’ (assuming the circuitous route to firing, not firing him directly).

    If anything, he seems to keep a lot of the promises he tells to the media, and thus to America. One thing he said was that if Mueller began investigating his private businesses it was a ‘red line’. Muller has crossed it, so I think Trump will fire Rosenstein to begin the process. Hopefully I’m wrong, but even if he does, his approval rating will do nothing but continue its precipitous decline. If he fires him before the 2018 elections, I would predict a political disaster for Republicans.

    • Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      My fingers are crossed. Ooops, that would be superstition. How about “thoughts and prayers”? Nope. I’ll have to stick with “fondest wish”.

    • Posted March 19, 2018 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      his approval rating will do nothing but continue its precipitous decline

      What decline?

      It beggars belief but Trump’s approval rating sank to around 36% last November but has been on an upward trend since then. If you think he’s getting less popular, you are in fantasy land, I’m afraid.

      • Stephen Barnard
        Posted March 19, 2018 at 8:31 am | Permalink

        Trump’s approval rating has flat-lined at about 40% according to fivethirtyeight. This is anomalously low by historical standards.

        What’s changed is that the animus for Trump is motivating Democrat turnout and arguably depressing Republican turnout. (Surely there must be SOME evangelicals who finally cannot stomach Trump’s immorality and hypocrisy.)

        The stark Democratic victories in recent special elections spell doom for the Republicans in the midterms.

        • Posted March 19, 2018 at 8:52 am | Permalink

          According to fivethirtyeight (which is the link in my previous post), it was down to 36% in November and has therefore risen around four points since. It hasn’t flat-lined, but I do agree he is doing badly compared to most of his recent predecessors

          You may be right about the electoral effects, I certainly hope so.

  17. David Jorling
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    First if he is impeached and convicted (albeit I don’t that will happen) there will be major protests if not an armed insurrection by his supporters.
    Secondly he does not need to fear Mueller. He will pardon everyone including himself after the 2018 election and the Republicans retain control. It will be the most important election in our history and how it turns out may largely depend on how successful the Russian s are at hacking it. The Supreme Court will likely uphold his ability to pardon given its current make up. There is a reason Mueller is giving such good deals: I suspect he knows that no jury could be empaneled that would convict any of them since any jury would likely have 3 or 4 Trump supporters. All it would take is one of them to hold out for a not guilty verdict for the result to be a hung jury. Prosecutors call this jury nullification.

    I don’t think Trump fears Mueller. He’s using it to his political advantage and surrounding himself with with sycophants who will support him when he tries to seize power as a dictator. Much as I detest him he is a criminal and political genius. But I hope I am totally wrong in all this analysis.

    • Posted March 18, 2018 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      You’re right about him being a criminal. You’re mistaken about him being a “political genius.” He has no plan and no strategy for anything. He’s just flyin’ by the seat of his pants hoping beyond hope that not enough people notice that he’s an incompetent, delusional ignoramus of cosmic proportions.

      His ignorance and stupidity is unmatched in merkin’ history. Ultimately, it’s what gonna’ sink the Orange-Haired Orangutan. Hopefully he’ll do it w/o taking us w/ him.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted March 18, 2018 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      If Trump were to be indicted in the District of Columbia (where Mueller has an active grand jury) you’d be hard-pressed to find three or four potential jurors in the pool for the whole district who supported Trump. In 2016, Hillary carried the DC vote over Trump 91% to 4%.

  18. Peter
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    PCC(E) is wrong when he claims that Trump’s only achievement is the confirmation of a conservative Supreme Court judge.
    See this New York Time’s article:
    Still Glad You Voted Trump? At CPAC, Conservatives Had an Answer
    Conservatives have committed to memory the Trump achievements that they can recite when that inevitable, needling question comes up: Are you still glad you voted for him?
    A $1.5 trillion tax cut. Sweeping deregulation. Increased military spending. Conservative judges.

    I’m not saying that this will be enough for the Republicans to be successful at the next Congressional election. See here Paul Krugman’s latest column:
    Voters May Be Wising Up

  19. ploubere
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    This article is peripheral to the question, but is the most accurate analysis I’ve seen yet of the larger political situation. Briefly, it points out that Trump republicans are driven solely by tribal instinct, and have no philosophy beyond that. So they don’t care about legalities or rule of law. So you won’t get them on board with impeachment, no matter what the cretin does. He could not only fire Mueller but beat him with a baseball bat, and his base would love it.

    https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/3/15/17113176/new-york-times-opinion-page-conservatism

    • darrelle
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      That is pretty much exactly my take as well. There is no amount or quality of evidence of any act no matter how unethical, reprehensible or even violent that will cause a significant number of Trump’s core supporters to stop supporting him.

      Though historically low his popularity numbers have remained quite steady throughout most of his term so far. I often come across people saying that his numbers dropped “sharply,” or some other similar characterization, but when I actually go check his numbers they haven’t changed from the 3 to 4 percentage point range that they have bounce around in for as long as I’ve been watching them. Those are the core supporters who are very unlikely to change no matter the provocation. The only demographic that might be inspired to break ranks from that core group that I can think of is among conservative-religious women and evangelical women. Apparently there have been signs that women in those groups are not as supportive of Trump as their male spouses and peers.

      But even among women, who it seems to me should regard Trump as among the vilest pieces of shit on the planet, you’ve got Trump supporters proudly wearing T-shirts saying things like “Trump Can Grab Pussy” with downward pointing arrows. It seems unlikely to me that women like that will change their minds about Trump, ever. They already know that Trump is a nasty piece of work and they aren’t just fine with it, they think’s it’s great and would love to participate in some nastiness with him given the chance. Given the macho aspect endemic to the males in such women’s subculture I wonder how the husband of such a woman would respond if his wife offered her pussy to Trump and he took her up on it? Or if he rudely dismissed her as not worthy?

      • Posted March 19, 2018 at 10:03 am | Permalink

        I agree with all you say here. However, the GOP (and all politicians) live to stay in office. If they start to think support for Trump hurts their chances for re-election, they will bolt. Now for the bad news …

        If Trump goes, we’ll have Pence. Most of John Oliver’s show last night was devoted to showing us how crazy Mike Pence is.

        Even if Trump goes, we have to live with the fact that a large chunk of the US population supported him and his ideas. That sadness is going to be felt for a generation.

  20. Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    It’s extremely unlikely that Trump will be impeached AND convicted by the senate, which, after the wrenching turmoil of a trial, would require 67 votes. Not gonna happen.

    Depending on what well-documented criminal machinations Mueller & Co. will convincingly reveal, however, if the Dems take the House in 2018, it seems quite possible that the GOP elites might pressure Trump to resign his office, as Nixon did, to spare the party and the country the enormous, lengthy distraction of a trial. They might well cut a deal toward that end, too, such as no jail time for Don Jr. and Kushner, provided Trump keep his mouth shut and pledge not rouse the rabble.

    What’s more, if he does leave office that way early in 2019 (and if Pence himself is not seriously compromised), there is little chance Pence could hold the White House in 2020, not without the votes of all the millions of enraged Trump supporters, who will surely stay home or vote for some right-wing nutjob, never for Pence.

    • Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      This all sounds right but I doubt if Trump would give up the office because the GOP or all of Congress asked him to. He will continue to play the victim in such circumstances and will surround himself with enough sycophants to allow him to maintain his bubble.

      • Posted March 18, 2018 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

        Right–unless Mueller has enough on Don Jr. and Ivanka to put them in jail for decades. If the GOP heavyweights can offer dropped charges against Trump’s family in exchange for his resignation, he could well fall victim to the art of the deal.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted March 18, 2018 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      The lynchpin to the matter is whether the Democrats can take control of the House of Representatives in this year’s election. If so, there will be an open, public hearings undertaken by the House judiciary committee next year. Accordingly, interested citizens will have Trump’s perfidy laid bare for all to see on tv every day. Once that happens, Trump’s public support will likely shrink to its hardcore, deplorable minimum, however large that may be. And senate Republicans may finally find what passes for their spines.

  21. Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Don’t know. I can’t separate wishful thinking from reality, especially now Trump has normalized conduct that would have been intolerable a few short years ago.

  22. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Trump’s gonna make a move on Mueller as sure as no god ever made little green apples in the rainy orchards of Indianapolis. I’ve said that from the get-go and, as I said here, had a premonition it was coming last June when, as it turns out, Trump actually ordered White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller, but backed off when McGahn refused and threatened to quit.

    Mueller has Trump in his cross-hairs, and Trump is hardly one to sit back and let the inevitable unfold. One of Trump’s recurrent gambits is to have a surrogate float a trial balloon on any controversial contemplated move, so Trump can gauge the amount of pushback he’ll get and, if reaction is too heavy, make the surrogate take the fall by claiming he was never considering the move in the first place. He did that yesterday when his personal lawyer, John Dowd, put out a tweet urging Deputy AG Rosenstein to end the Mueller investigation. (Dowd originally said he was acting on Trump’s behalf, then later walked it back by claiming he wasn’t.)

    Eventually, and likely sooner rather than later, Trump will either decide he’s got sufficient Party support to axe Mueller, or (more likely) he’ll go balls-to-the-wall and get rid of the Mueller despite the consequences, since the consequences of not moving on Mueller would be even more dire. To fire Mueller, Trump will first have to can Rosenstein (and anyone else at Justice who stands up to Trump) — or he might do a two-step by first replacing AG Sessions with EPA dingbat Scott Pruitt (the former AG of Oklahoma), then having Pruitt try to ride heard on (and, when that fails, fire) Mueller.

    If the Dems retake the House of Representatives in this Fall’s election, Trump will almost certainly be impeached by the House after the new Congress is seated next January. The Democrats, of course, still won’t have the necessary 2/3 majority in the Senate to convict Trump. But if Mueller’s investigation reveals the kind of appalling details of Trump’s relationship with Russia that I suspect are out there, Trump’s support among Republicans in the senate may wither. GOP senators’ support for Trump has always been shallow; none of the sitting senators supported Trump during the 2016 Republican primaries. They know he is completely unfit for office and that he’s turned the US presidency into a cruel mockery of itself. They’ve fallen in line behind him only because they fear retaliation from his energized, reactionary base, and because they wanted to push through tax-cuts for the super wealthy and maybe even Obamacare repeal — and, let us not overlook, out of pure obstinacy, because they can’t stand the glee liberals express over Trump’s many failures and foibles.

    Still, it may not come to impeachment; Trump might walk away from office. I don’t think he’s enjoying his tenure much, aside from the occasional Nuremberg-style rallies and having foreign dignitaries kiss his ass in public. The two things holding him back would be his morbid animating phobia of being labeled a “loser” and the fear of post-resignation indictment. If those fears can be alleviated, if Trump is assured of a pardon and if he can find a way to characterize himself as a political martyr — and if, more importantly, he can see his way clear to monetizing his martyrdom — we may well be rid of him yet.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted March 18, 2018 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      I suspect fear is the only thing holding him back at present. That and his minders if that it was we call his advisers whoever they are. I hear the republicans and the democrats have a bill in hand that will make Mueller special prosecutor in case Trump does go ahead and pull the trigger. Now for this to work in reality the vote has to be veto proof but I think that is the plan. If they do not go this way, their only action must be to impeach.

    • Posted March 19, 2018 at 8:30 am | Permalink

      An excellent analysis except I am sceptical of the idea that Mueller has got anything on Trump himself. I’ll believe it when it happens, but at the moment all the “evidence” seems to be wishful thinking on the part of people who want rid of him.

      It could all still pan out in the way you say because I’m sure Trump – not even Trump – would throw his own children under the bus, if not for love then self preservation. Can you imagine what Trumpian secrets Jared Kuschner might be prepared to divulge in exchange for a reduced prison sentence?

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted March 19, 2018 at 8:57 am | Permalink

        I doubt the evidence will reveal that Trump himself personally colluded with the Russians during the campaign (although it may well show that he was aware that others in his orbit did). But I strongly suspect it will show that Trump has been compromised by the Russians, probably by deep ties to the oligarch’s filthy lucre (as well as other kompromat, perhaps). And Mueller is “following the money,” as the saying goes.

        • GBJames
          Posted March 19, 2018 at 9:10 am | Permalink

          “Colluded with” is a somewhat imprecise term. But in my mind he clearly did given the repeated appeals to Russia to “find her emails” during the campaign (just before Wikileaks released them). I don’t think tRump is all that good at that whole plausible deniability thing.

      • Posted March 19, 2018 at 9:39 am | Permalink

        Republicans have already shown that they’re just fine with Trump pardoning the most unlikable of characters (Joe Arpaio)and DJT can keep up his circus act forever.

        My bet is when he eventually leaves- as con men always do set up their next con- he will be richer, just as beloved by his base, and able to run out the clock on any/all lawsuits.

    • Posted March 19, 2018 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      You draw attention to the fact that he’s already tried. That’s why I said “yes”.

  23. Merilee
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Sub

  24. Posted March 18, 2018 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    It’s certainly amazing how many of you know all the inside details of this investigation along with impending charges. Perhaps you may be projecting?

    It’s also good to keep in mind there will be other investigations (perhaps a special counsel) into surveillance, FISA abuses, wiretapping, corruption in the FBI and DOJ. There will be questions about whether government officials weaponized the intelligence agencies and the FISA court to derail a presidential candidate.

    Maybe we should wait before laying out a prosecution strategy.

    • Posted March 18, 2018 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

      Someone has a fever!

    • Posted March 18, 2018 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      I apologize for my earlier answer. I realized just after I hit “post” that your comment needed a better response.

      I find it hard to believe there’s much substance behind those potential investigations you name, at least not those that Trump and his followers have proposed in attempts to de-legitimize the Mueller investigation. There might certainly be cases where FISA, wiretaps, etc. have been abused over the years. However, the idea that the FBI and DOJ actively conspired to attack Trump is just an obvious reaction to his vulnerability.

      • Posted March 18, 2018 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

        I think there is room for reasonable disagreement here, we’ll just have to wait for the IG’s report, due out soon.

        It looks like collusion is off the table, so perhaps obstruction of justice and/or financial dealings may be his undoing. But we will see.

        McCabe can challenge his firing if he wishes to bring the matter to court. Then we may know the full extent of his alleged wrongdoing.

        On the other matter, the texts between Strzok and Page at the least appear highly unprofessional (I was a criminal investigator for 30 years) possible conspiracy and would have had the effect of compromising Mueller’s ongoing investigation.

        Whether Trump is guilty of a crime is something I cannot say, and Mueller will not be able to say as well. That may have to be decided by a trial of the Senate. In the meantime, I think it would be reasonable to withhold judgement on both investigations.

        • Stephen Barnard
          Posted March 18, 2018 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

          “It looks like collusion is off the table …”

          Really? How about a criminal conspiracy? Is that off the table? Cambridge Analytica? Roger Stone? Wikileaks? Trump Tower meeting? Multiple unreported (and lied about) Russian contacts, and related indictments and guilty pleas? I could go on.

          Collusion, as you call it, is very much on the table. If it weren’t, why would Trump be insanely tweet-denying it every day? He’s acting exactly as one would expect a person guilty of “collusion” to act.

  25. Stephen Barnard
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    Trump seems to be afraid of Stormy Daniels as much as he is of Robert Mueller. By now everyone knows that Trump had a sexual relationship with Stormy, the “porn star”. The question is why he continues to deny it and to use extreme measures to keep her from revealing even more sordid details. I have a theory that involves Melania. It’s common for prenuptial agreements to have an infidelity clause. As usual, it’s about the money.

    By the way, in case you couldn’t tell, I’m loving this Stormy Daniels scandal. It has everything — illicit sex, adultery, lies, payoffs, intimidation, and PORN AND THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. I can’t wait to read Trump’s deposition in front of Stormy’s new formidable attorney.

    • Mark R.
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 12:43 am | Permalink

      Stormy turned the tables on Trump and is using his own tactics against him. As I see it, her valid argument is: “you’re stopping me from making $millions$ on what I know…and unfortunately for you, what I know is a huge smear before you were even POTUS. I get my say you fucker, esp. now that you are POTUS. And your alias didn’t sign my shut-up clause, only your lawyer did, so bye, bye.”

      If only truth could cut through the bullshit. Stormy might rain and thunder through where others could not. That would be unlikely, but lovely.

      • Stephen Barnard
        Posted March 19, 2018 at 10:56 am | Permalink

        “Stormy turned the tables on Trump and is using his own tactics against him.”

        Exactly. Stormy and her pit bull attorney can work the media like Mueller can’t.

        Trump must be living in a special kind of hell right now, and he deserves it. I’m of the opinion that he never expected to win, and when he did win against all odds he was appalled, and now he’s in way over his depth.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      Lordy, I hope there are tapes. 🙂

      Any “infidelity clause” leaves Trump’s prenup with Melania deader than disco. On top of everything else, the Access Hollywood hot-mic pussy-grabbing tape happened while Melania was preggers with Baron.

  26. Diane G.
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    sub

  27. Posted March 19, 2018 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    I assume Trump will find a way of getting Mueller fired. Liberals are planning protests, but for Trump’s followers these will only confirm that Trump is a winner who has defeated Mueller and all his opponents. It will strengthen his position.

    Depending on how things play out i guess there might be some indictments of maybe Kushner and Don Jr, and these should be seen as an achievement.

    I guess this is what happens when 40% of the population goes mad, and 50% don’t realize until it’s too late, and 10% will simply side with whoever seems to be winning.

    I saw Eugene Robinson on MSNBC the other day smirking and guffawing over Trump’s stupidity. Some people still have realized what hit them. This dream of impeachment is the opiate of the liberals.

    • Posted March 19, 2018 at 7:26 am | Permalink

      Yes. And then what happens when/if he is impeached? Everything will proceed smoothly and DJT will quitely be removed from office. Or quit rather than be disgraced. Riight.


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