John Dowd’s resignation as the head of Trump’s legal team may just seem like more churn in a week where the White House revolving door is spinning at light speed. But, no matter what Republicans in Congress claim, Dowd’s departure may be the sign that Trump is about to go from attacking Robert Mueller on Twitter, to forcibly ending the special counsel investigation.
Since he appeared on the scene, John Dowd has been throwing himself in front of Donald Trump’s speeding tweets. Last December, Donald Trump tweeted out a claim about indicted National Security Advisor Michael Flynn …
I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2017
The problem with that statement: It shows that Trump knew Flynn had lied to the FBI, but Trump just ignored that problem as he’d already actively denied it. That’s when John Dowd rushed in with the most idiotic defense ever to come from a supposed legal expert.
Dowd told NBC News that he drafted the tweet and then sent it to White House Social Media Director Dan Scavino to publish.
As unbelievable as that may seem—and literally no one believed it—Dowd wasn’t done tossing his person—and his legal license—on the line for Trump. Last week, Dowd issued a statement that Rod Rosenstein should fire Robert Mueller. He claimed at first that the words came from Trump. Then he claimed they were his own idea.
And now that he’s out the door, he seems willing to admit at least some of the truth. His attack on Mueller was approved by Trump.
Dowd’s call for firing Mueller wasn’t just direct, but framed in a way that cloaked it in the mock patriotism mixed with personality cult that marks Trump policy.
“I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier,” Dowd then wrote.
Dowd then went on to oscilate like a fan on a hot day.
When The Daily Beast initially asked Dowd if he was speaking on behalf of the president, he answered, “Yes as his counsel.”
After publication of this story, however, Dowd emailed to say he was actually speaking in his personal capacity, and not on the president’s behalf.
And finally, Dowd fessed up to the Wall Street Journal.
Mr. Dowd drew criticism last weekend when he gave a statement to the media calling for the Justice Department to shut down Mr. Mueller’s investigation. Mr. Dowd later said he was speaking for himself, not the president.
But in the interview, Mr. Dowd said that Mr. Trump had approved the statement he had given. “He thought it was a good statement. And I still do,” Mr. Dowd said.
Dowd hasn’t explicitly said why he was leaving, but the timing between this statement and his resignation would seem to signal that Dowd had reached a point where he no longer felt comfortable taking the punches for Trump’s actions. And with Dowd going out, and professional conspiracy theorist Joseph diGenova coming in, it should shock no one that there’s a very, very good chance Donald Trump will move against Robert Mueller very, very soon.
- Trump has been openly attacking Mueller, something he has not done in the past. The statement issued by Dowd and approved by Trump is just one of several that show Trump is ready to pull the trigger.
- Mueller both recently sent questions to the White House outlining the areas he would like to go over with Trump, and Mueller sent subpoenas to the Trump Organization, demanding business documents that could show Trump’s long-running connections to Russian oligarchs.
- House Republicans handed Trump a 125-page report saying that they “found no evidence” of collusion, giving him something to wave around should he move to end the special counsel investigation. Paul Ryan made it clear that he backed the release and the results of the partisan report.
- Congress is heading out of town following the late night vote on the Omnibus spending bill, meaning that any concerted effort to stop Mueller’s dismissal would require special action by Ryan or Mitch McConnell—which won’t happen.
- Congress refused to take any action before departing, shrugging off the potential that Mueller would be fired with extremely weak tea comments that Mueller was safe.
The resignation of Dowd is a signal that Trump is done with the pretense that he is cooperating with Mueller, or that he’s going to allow the process to play out. The voices Trump is listening to now are the ones that insist on a more aggressive stance—that ones that agree with Trump.
It was not immediately clear who would take over as the President’s lead personal attorney, but Trump earlier this week hired another veteran Washington attorney, Joseph diGenova, to join his legal team. DiGenova was expected to play a forward-facing role on the legal team, filling what Trump felt was a lack of voices publicly defending him and challenging the special counsel. …Trump had also continued to speak regularly with Marc Kasowitz, his longtime lawyer who stepped back from leading the team months ago but still remained involved. Kasowitz had long recommended that Trump take a more aggressive posture toward the Mueller investigation.
Believe it or not, Trump feels like he has “cooperated” to this point. And he’s done cooperating.
John Dowd’s resignation as Donald Trump’s personal attorney is another marker that the President is moving toward a war footing against Robert Mueller, the special counsel.
And right now, Republicans in Congress seem to be working very hard to make sure that, in this war, Robert Mueller is unarmed.