And the hits just keep coming.
Two days after it emerged that Robert Mueller has teamed up with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in what certainly looks like an effort to circumvent Trump’s pardon power by pursuing a state case against Paul Manafort, The New York Times reports that “Bobby Three Sticks” has gotten ahold of a draft letter the President intended to send to James Comey.
Here are the high points from The Times‘ piece:
The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has obtained a letter that President Trump and a top political aide drafted in the days before Mr. Trump fired the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, which explains the president’s rationale for why he planned to dismiss the director.
The May letter had been met with opposition from Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, who believed that some of its contents were problematic, according to interviews with a dozen administration officials and others briefed on the matter.
Mr. McGahn successfully blocked the president from sending Mr. Comey the letter, which Mr. Trump had composed with Stephen Miller, one of the president’s top political advisers.
A different letter, written by the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, and focused on Mr. Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, was ultimately sent to the F.B.I. director on the day he was fired.
There you go.
And this should come as no surprise. Recall that the rationale implicit in Rosenstein’s “recommendation” to fire Comey revolved around the idea that the FBI Director had treated Hillary Clinton unfairly. You can read that letter in full at the end of this post, but here’s what we wrote about it at the time:
Listen, if you don’t smell a rat in Donald Trump’s move to sack the FBI Director who was investigating the administration’s ties to the Kremlin, you are either willfully ignorant or else just hopeless.
This is so outrageous that the punditry (both liberal and conservative) is having an exceedingly difficult time coming to grips with it.
Even if you think Comey deserved to be dismissed, the notion that the White House relieved him of his duties out of concern for whether Hillary Clinton was treated fairly by the (former) Director is bizarre in the extreme.
You’re reminded that the decision to fire Comey came down just hours after the FBI admitted that Comey had in fact grossly exaggerated the extent to which Clinton mishandled classified information.
Again, last night you witnessed Donald Trump essentially telling you that because Comey might have mishandled the Clinton probe, he needed to be fired.
That’s how stupid this administration thinks you are.
They think you’re going to believe that.
And they think you’ll see no connection whatsoever to the fact that Comey was investigating Russian meddling in America’s democracy.
In short, you’re supposed to believe that Donald Trump became a Hillary Clinton sympathizer on Tuesday evening.
Clearly, Trump wanted to fire Comey because the then-Director showed no signs of budging over the Russia investigation and so, he had Rod Rosenstein engineer an excuse.
That was obvious to everyone at the time and it was readily apparent that Trump was trying to avoid charges that he was obstructing justice by making up a reason to fire Comey that had nothing to do with Russia.
Well now, Mueller apparently has in his possession a document that states something closer to the truth behind Comey’s firing and that document was deemed “problematic” by White House counsel.
Any guesses on why White House counsel “believed that some of its contents were problematic”? I’ve got a suggestion: probably because the language implicated Trump and Miller in obstruction of justice.
That, in turn, suggests that Rosenstein was complicit. Which raises still more questions.
Original letter from Rosenstein