Trump on investigation: Phony story, witch hunt, zero proof

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Published by: Dan Calabrese on Thursday June 15th, 2017

All of which is consistent with the evidence, or lack thereof, so far.

Here's the no-win proposition for Donald Trump. The entirety of Washington D.C. is obsessed with the idea that you colluded with the Russians to steal the election, even though you know you didn't - and no one else did either - and everyone familiar with the facts of the matter knows this. So you're having to deal on a continual basis with questions about a matter that consists of absolutely nothing. You're trying to govern, and the Beltway is collectively trying to keep you from doing so by tying you down with this nonsense.

But they control the news cycles and the narratives, so you if actually say how fed up you are with it, they'll turn it around on you and claim that they're getting under your skin, and that you're acting like a man who has something to hide. In fact, you're just tired of the idiocy of the Beltway and the media, but they'll make it look like your frustration reflects badly on you and not on them.

So there's your choice: Say how ridiculous this is and get skewered for it? Or hold your tongue and let the notion that there's any legitimacy to this garbage?

You know the president, so his choice shouldn't surprise you:

U.S. President Donald Trump attacked what he called a "phony story" on Thursday after a report that he is under investigation for possible obstruction of justice by the special counsel probing alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

"They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story. Nice," Trump wrote on Twitter, later repeating his accusation that the probe is a "witch hunt."

The Washington Post, citing unidentified officials, reported on Wednesday that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating the Republican president for possible obstruction of justice.

Mueller is leading the Russia probe after being appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in the Department of Justice, which oversees the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Last week, former FBI Director James Comey told Congress he believed he was fired by Trump to undermine the agency's Russia investigation.

A source familiar with the Mueller investigation confirmed the Post report, saying an examination of possible obstruction of justice charges was "unavoidable" given Comey's testimony, although the issue may not become the main focus of the probe.

I suppose it could ultimately be to Trump's advantage if Mueller and his team look into the obstruction charge and determine it's without merit, as the known facts seem to suggest is inevitable. But independent counsels can become dangerous animals. They tend to think they've got to get a scalp to justify their existence, so when there's no underlying crime they tend to hunt for process crimes. Karl Rove outlined in today's Wall Street Journal how he and Scooter Libby got caught up in Patrick Fitzgerald's crusade, even though Fitzgerald knew from day one that the matter he was asked to investigate was a big nothingburger:

The president had better hope that Robert Mueller, the special counsel now looking into potential Russia-Trump ties, is nothing like Patrick Fitzgerald, the special counsel appointed in 2003 to investigate the leaking of a CIA official’s name to the columnist Robert Novak.

Mr. Fitzgerald knew within days, if not hours, of his appointment that the leak had come from Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage but that it violated no law since the CIA employee was no longer a covert operative.

Despite no underlying crime, Mr. Fitzgerald spent more than three years obsessed with trying to justify his existence by prosecuting someone in the Bush White House for lying under oath. I was one of those in his sights.

He focused on me because, while I could not remember a brief call in 2003 from a Time reporter, I had ordered my staff the following year to search for any evidence I had talked to the journalist. That was supposed to be proof I had lied. Mr. Fitzpatrick gave up hunting me only when he learned that my lawyer had directed me to search my files after hearing from the reporter’s colleague that I had talked with him.

Instead Mr. Fitzpatrick indicted the vice president’s chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, a very good man, on a disagreement over who said what, when and to whom.

Everyone thinks it's wonderful that these independent counsels are independent, because they're free from political pressure. But they're also free from accountability, so if they decide to target and harass someone just for the sake of nailing someone, it's extremely difficult to rein them in. The attorney general can fire the independent counsel, or the president could, but that gets presented in the media as the equivalent of Nixon ordering Eliot Richardson to fire Archibald Cox - even the independent counsel may in fact be completely out of control and in need of a canning.

Now that we've turned one loose on this Russia business, the story has the potential to remain alive for months or years, even as we continue to see no evidence whatsoever that there was any collusion, by anyone.

GDP growth for Obama's final year? A measly 1.6 percent

By the way, many of the left are trying to conflate the collusion thing with the matter of Russia trying to influence the election. The latter seems to have clearly happened to some degree. But when you say there was no collusion between Team Trump and Russia, they act like you're saying Russia didn't try to influence the election at all. That's how they make skeptics of the collusion story sound ridiculous. In fact, we're simply recognizing what a huge difference there is between Russia trying to influence the election (which probably happened) and Trump helping them (for which there is no evidence whatsoever, at least not that anyone has produced).

I don't blame President Trump at all for lashing out about this. I would too. Much of Washington knows this is a phony story, created to make Trump look like he's embroiled in a massive scandal. That gives the left and the media an excuse to constantly analyze "how Trump is handling the scandal," which conveniently leaves out the fact there isn't really a scandal at all.

The usual way to go about this is to keep quiet and pledge "full cooperation." I'm sure many of the president's advisors are pulling their hair out because he won't play it that way. But playing it that way gives credibility to a complete sham. President Trump is right not to do that.

Dan's new novel, BACKSTOP, is a story of spiritual warfare and baseball. Download it from Amazon here!