On Saturday, March l7, newspaper headlines revealed that the Trump Organization had been subpoenaed in recent weeks to turn over documents, including some related to Russia. This was the first time that records directly related to Trump’s business were demanded by court order. Trump had warned in the past that his family’s business affairs would be the “red line” if Mueller crossed it.
Mueller had already indicted 13 Russians and three companies accused of meddling in the 2016 election. On Thursday, March 15, the Trump administration included them in sanctions, as punishment for interference in the campaign and “malicious cyberattacks”. These were not the original sanctions passed almost unanimously by Congress months ago that Trump signed but failed to put into effect. Trump had insisted that Putin said he did not meddle in the election. He refused to accept the conclusions from our sixteen intelligence agencies that the Russians were directly responsible for meddling in the 2016 election.
Robert Mueller III was appointed as a special counsel to investigate whether Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russians to influence the 2016 election and any other matters that may have arisen from the inquiry. Mueller is also examining whether the president has tried to obstruct the investigation. Cable news panels have discussed the subject of “Obstruction of Justice” for months as a possible impeachment charge at great length as Mueller continues to indict members of Trump’s campaign team.
One of Trump’s lawyer’s , John Dowd, called the Justice Department on March 17 to end the special counsel investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. This was a sharp shift from the previous cooperative attitude of the White House legal staff. Dowd urged Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who oversees the special counsel to end the probe. At first, Dowd said he was speaking on behalf of the president, but later backed off from that assertion. However, the president has been attacking the F.B.I. and Justice Department in his tweets for months as the investigation continues. Hours later, he wrote on his Twitter account, “There was tremendous leakage, lying and corruption at the F.B.I. Justice and State.”
By Monday, March 19, the New York Times lead story was “ His Anger Rising, Trump Takes Direct Aim at Mueller and His Team” Sub headline. “Some Republicans Warn President Not To Fire Special Counsel” Ever since the investigation began, Trump had called it a “witch hunt” and a “hoax”, but heeded his lawyers not to directly attack Mueller by name. a widely respected Republican who once headed the F.B. I. On Sunday, he wrote on Twitter, “ Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans?”…… does anyone think this is fair? And yet, there is NO COLLUSION!”
Certain Republicans spoke out against the attack on Robert Mueller, seeing it as leading to firing the special counsel. Senator Lindsey Graham, an ally of Trump, said on State of The Union, “If he tried to do that, that would be the beginning of the end of his presidency, because we’re a rule of law nation.” He continued, “When it comes to Mr. Mueller, he is following the evidence where it takes him, and I think he should be allowed to do his job without interference, and there are many Republicans who share my view.” Senator Jeff Flake, a sharp critic of Trump who was on the same program, agreed with him. “People see it as a massive red line that can’t be crossed. We have confidence in Mueller.” He urged the president’s advisers to prevail upon him not to fire Mueller. Representative Trey Gowdy on Fox News said if the president was innocent, he should “act like it” and leave Mr. Mueller alone, warning of dire repercussions if the president tried to fire Mr. Mueller. Lastly, Senator John McCain made his strong comment, “Special Counsel Mueller has served our country with honesty and integrity. It’s critical he be allowed to complete a thorough investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election —- unimpeded.”
Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, had his spokeswoman release the following statement, “ As the speaker has always said, Mr. Mueller and his team should be able to do their job.” This was seen as luke warm, but better than Senator Mitch McConnell , Majority leader who did not comment at all. Other Repuplican senate leaders who said nothing were: John Cornyn, majority whip, John Thune, chairman of the conference, Representative Kevin Mc Carthy, majority leader of the House and Steve Scalise, majority whip.
On Tuesday, March 20, Trump called Putin to congratulate him on his re-election to president for six more years. Despite being warned by his National Security Advisor, in a memo with DO NOT CONGRATULATE in capital letters, Trump did what he has done ever since he became president. He seems to believe that he needs to work together with Putin to solve world problems, an approach that no one in our intelligence community agrees with. They all judge Russia and Putin as an enemy “meddling in our election and democracy.”
Since Trump became president, there have been forty three departures from his administration, far exceeding any previous president. The growing list includes: top cabinet ministers in State Department, Health and Human Services, chief of staff, chief strategist, top economic adviser and press secretary. Most dramatic exits were the firings of James Comey, Director of the F.B.I. and Andrew Mc Cabe, Deputy Director of the F.B.I. Trump fired Mc Cabe the day before his planned retirement on his 50’th birthday when he would have received his pension after 22 years of service. Trump’s action was widely criticized as”petty and vindictive”. To counteract this result, four Democratic members of the House hired Mc Cabe to work on their staffs. This work for the federal government will entitle McCabe to his sixty thousand dollars a year pension!
With key personnel gone at the White House, and rumors of more firings to come, Trump insists he loves “chaos” and pitting people and their ideas against each other. He relies completely on “Fox and Friends” each morning on TV to keep up with the news of the country and the world. His favorite press whipping targets are CNN and the “failing” New York Times. They are covering, in addition to national and world news, the current scandals of the women who are accusing him of his past behavior toward them. Chief among them is Stormy Daniels, the porn star with whom he had a long relationship.Trump insists all his accusers are “liars”. He has hired new lawyers to deal with this aspect of his legal travails.
Epilogue: One year into his administration, Donald Trump appears to rely on his “gut” when making decisions and statements that affect the country and the world. Four former members of his administration , who have been indicted by Mueller, are “cooperating” with the special counsel and awaiting trial. Some members of Congress are trying to pass legislation to stop him from firing Robert Mueller. The clock is ticking.
………………………………………………………………………………….. Joyce S. Anderson