Trump and his
lapdog lawyer Rudy Giuliani are having a busy day, working to gaslight everybody. Trump is huffing and puffing that he’s going to “officially” open an investigation into his investigation tomorrow to see what condition his condition is in, or something. Meanwhile, Rudy is growling and showing his fangs, insisting that Robert Mueller told him that that the Trump Russia probe will be concluded by September 1. New York Times:
The special counsel plans to finish by Sept. 1 its investigation into whether President Trump obstructed the Russia inquiry, according to the president’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, who said on Sunday that waiting any longer would risk improperly influencing voters in the midterm elections in November.
The office of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, shared its timeline about two weeks ago amid negotiations over whether Mr. Trump will be questioned by investigators, Mr. Giuliani said in an interview. A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment.
Mr. Giuliani’s comments were an apparent attempt to publicly pressure Mr. Mueller amid their interview negotiations. He urged that the investigation be wrapped up as soon as possible, pointing as a cautionary tale to the revelation by the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey in the last days of the 2016 presidential race that he was reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. Mr. Comey’s announcement is widely blamed by Democrats for costing her the election. The F.B.I. found no wrongdoing.
Now this will undoubtedly impress the clueless base, who ritually hunch around the firelight thrown by the teevee set, their low foreheads knitted with great concern, while Fox News soothingly assures them that Hillary will be going to prison any day now. However, for the rest of the civilized world who follow things as they occur, this decision was made weeks ago, as the Times says, and it has nothing to do with Mueller coming to the end of his road, let alone the laughable pretense of him being bullied by Rudy. Briefly, the investigation is slated to go dark for a period so as not to influence the midterm elections, as mandated by Department of Justice guidelines. That’s all. Wall Street Journal, May 6, 2018:
Though Mr. Mueller doesn’t face any specific legal deadline, the fall midterms amount to a political one, according to experts and prosecutors. He will reach a point this summer when Justice Department habits dictate that he will have to either finish his inquiries or go dark and stretch out his work until past November so he doesn’t appear to be trying to sway voters’ decisions, which would be at odds with Justice Department guidelines for prosecutors. […]
According to the handbook for federal prosecutors, the U.S. Attorneys’ Manual, Justice Department employees are barred from using their official authority “to interfere with or affect the result of an election.”
The rules aren’t explicit, but a March 2012 memo from then-Attorney General Eric Holder also instructed Justice Department employees to be “particularly sensitive to safeguarding the Department’s reputation for fairness, neutrality, and nonpartisanship.” Specifically, he told law-enforcement officers and prosecutors to never time investigative steps or criminal charges “for the purpose of affecting any election” or to give “an advantage or disadvantage to any candidate or political party.”
This is the second trial balloon along these lines that Rudy has test flown this week, the first being the announcement that Mueller will only interview Trump on two topics. And that might well be, initially. If Trump was called back for a second session of questioning, he certainly would not be the first witness in Trump Russia where that has taken place nor the last. The larger point is that Trump and Giuliani are desperately trying to paint a facade which clearly depicts them as in charge and forceful. Great. Do Kabuki theater for Fox News and the rest of us. It’s always amusing. But nothing can change the shape of things to come. Avenatti says Trump won’t finish out his term and I for one believe he’s right.