Trump’s war on Robert Mueller

By Bill Press

That old truism about politics – “Where you stand depends on where you sit” – has been proven true, once again, on the issue of emails.

How well we remember. As a candidate, Trump was obsessed with emails: Hillary Clinton’s emails. He accused her of breaking the law by setting up a private email server, blamed the FBI for not throwing her in jail and demanded that all of her emails be made public. He even invited Russians to hack into her system and retrieve 30,000 missing emails, so we could see them, too.

But now, as president, when it comes to his own emails, Trump’s singing a different tune. No sooner did he learn that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had obtained thousands of emails sent and received by his own transition team than Trump called foul. “It’s not looking good. My people were very upset,” Trump told reporters. Meanwhile, his attorneys accused Mueller of obtaining the emails illegally and demanded that they remain private.

Seriously? He thinks Robert Mueller doesn’t know the law, or would dare do anything not by the book? As special counsel, investigating possible collusion between members of the Trump team and Russian officials, Mueller has every right to access any related documents. That’s why he sought and received authority to raid Paul Manafort’s house early in the morning and seize his computer.

In this case, email records of the Trump transition team were made available to Mueller by the General Services Administration, which oversees federal Internet traffic. The transition office was an official federal government operation. As such, their email address, ending in “.gov,” is a matter of public record. The idea that they were obtained illegally is ludicrous.

For Mueller, this was a smart move. Investigating the possibility of collusion, there’s no better potential treasure trove of evidence than emails Trump’s team members were sending. Who were they communicating with? What where they talking about? And besides, if Trumpers were really not in contact with Russia, and not talking about rigging the election for Trump, they have nothing to worry about.

Let’s be honest. This is not a serious, or stand-alone, complaint. This is but the latest phase in an escalating campaign by Donald Trump and congressional Republicans to discredit Mueller and the Russian investigation – which, from the start, even before he fired James Comey, Trump had dismissed as a “witch hunt” engineered by Democrats who still cannot accept the fact that he’s in the Oval Office and Hillary’s not.

At first, the administration said it welcomed Mueller’s investigation as a chance to “clear the air” of any wrongdoing and would fully cooperate. But now that Mueller has charged Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn and appears to be closing in on the Oval Office, Trump’s lawyers are getting nervous.

Anticipating more serious charges coming soon against top White House officials, perhaps even members of the president’s own family, Trump and his attorneys are mounting a deliberate campaign to destroy Mueller first. They’ve even called for appointment of a second special counsel, this one to investigate Mueller himself, and have demanded a meeting with Mueller next week.

They’re joined in the drumbeat of war against Mueller by several congressional Republicans led by South Carolina’s Trey Gowdy, who wants Mueller taken to court, and by right-wing organizations like The Conservative Caucus, which has labeled Mueller “Comey’s Homey” and is mounting a campaign to get him fired.

No doubt, Donald Trump would like to fire Mueller and has even considered it. But, after his colossal mistake of firing James Comey and prompting the appointment of a special counsel, even Trump must realize that firing Mueller would be a bridge too far. Some Republican senators have already advised against it. And Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the leading Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, warned this week that firing Mueller “has the potential to provoke a constitutional crisis.”

One thing’s for sure: None of this name-calling will unnerve Robert Mueller. He’s a consummate pro. He’s assembled a first-class team. He’s doing his job. He’ll take his time. He’ll follow the evidence wherever it leads. He’ll issue his final report when he’s ready.

The fact is, when it comes to credibility, pitting Robert Mueller against Donald Trump is a joke. One’s the most respected law enforcement official in the country. The other’s a political huckster who has yet to tell the truth about anything. Mueller has more credibility in his little finger than Trump has in his entire body.

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