On Friday evening, Donald Trump reminded the world that although Rod Rosenstein recently informed him he’s not the target of the Mueller probe (or maybe it was actually that he’s not the target of the Cohen investigation), he’s still no fan of the special counsel investigation.
Or, wait, that’s actually not right. What he actually said was that he’s no fan of the “Special Councel” probe, where “Councel” was the President’s latest attempt to figure out how to spell the one word he should probably know better than any other. Here’s the (since corrected) tweet:
he did it again. he just can't figure this shit out. pic.twitter.com/tpTDJYxDfj
— Walter White (@heisenbergrpt) April 28, 2018
He’s referencing the House Intelligence Committee report there which of course no one trusts, and not just because no one trusts Devin Nunes. No one cares about that report because that committee became a pissing contest between Nunes and Schiff and no matter which side of the partisan divide you happen to fall on, you hated that committee’s hopelessly fraught investigation and you were glad to see it end.
Well anyway, the House committee’s “findings” and Rod Rosenstein’s assurances notwithstanding, lots of folks still suspect that the Trump campaign did in fact collude with Moscow and Trump’s own tweets (not to mention his actions) seemingly implicate him in an effort to obstruct the ongoing investigation into that same collusion.
One person who seems to still suspect Trump of collusion and/or obstruction is Robert Mueller and the exodus from the President’s legal team along with his well-documented difficulties in obtaining competent counsel suggest that he may be a lot more optimistic about his situation than the legal community.
Lost in the Michael Cohen drama was John Dowd, who resigned last month just a week after saying he’s “praying” that Rosenstein shuts down the Mueller probe. That would be the same John Dowd who was forced to figuratively fall on his sword after Trump effectively tweeted out an admission to obstructing justice in December. And the same John Dowd who subsequently said this:
The President cannot obstruct justice.
At the time of his resignation, reports indicated Dowd was increasingly frustrated with Trump’s blatant disregard for advice on whether to sit with Mueller for an interview, something multiple people (including Roger Stone) have suggested is a horrible idea because, just to be brutally honest, Trump is a moron, prone to hyperbole, exaggeration, and in some cases, outright lying.
That sets up the potential for him to accidentally commit a crime during the interview in addition to the crimes he’s being interviewed about, a comically ridiculous situation befitting of a comically ridiculous president.
Well guess what? Now we know what Robert Mueller wants to ask Trump and we also know that John Dowd got a sneak peak at the list of questions, prompting him to resign. This comes courtesy of the New York Times who, in an exclusive, notes that Mueller’s questions clearly indicate that all lines of inquiry are still open. Here is the list:
- What did you know about phone calls that Mr. Flynn made with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, in late December 2016?
- What was your reaction to news reports on Jan. 12, 2017, and Feb. 8-9, 2017?
- What did you know about Sally Yates’s meetings about Mr. Flynn?
- How was the decision made to fire Mr. Flynn on Feb. 13, 2017?
- After the resignations, what efforts were made to reach out to Mr. Flynn about seeking immunity or possible pardon?
- What was your opinion of Mr. Comey during the transition?
- What did you think about Mr. Comey’s intelligence briefing on Jan. 6, 2017, about Russian election interference?
- What was your reaction to Mr. Comey’s briefing that day about other intelligence matters?
- What was the purpose of your Jan. 27, 2017, dinner with Mr. Comey, and what was said?
- What was the purpose of your Feb. 14, 2017, meeting with Mr. Comey, and what was said?
- What did you know about the F.B.I.’s investigation into Mr. Flynn and Russia in the days leading up to Mr. Comey’s testimony on March 20, 2017?
- What did you do in reaction to the March 20 testimony? Describe your contacts with intelligence officials.
- What did you think and do in reaction to the news that the special counsel was speaking to Mr. Rogers, Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Coats?
- What was the purpose of your calls to Mr. Comey on March 30 and April 11, 2017?
- What was the purpose of your April 11, 2017, statement to Maria Bartiromo?
- What did you think and do about Mr. Comey’s May 3, 2017, testimony?
- Regarding the decision to fire Mr. Comey: When was it made? Why? Who played a role?
- What did you mean when you told Russian diplomats on May 10, 2017, that firing Mr. Comey had taken the pressure off?
- What did you mean in your interview with Lester Holt about Mr. Comey and Russia?
- What was the purpose of your May 12, 2017, tweet?
- What did you think about Mr. Comey’s June 8, 2017, testimony regarding Mr. Flynn, and what did you do about it?
- What was the purpose of the September and October 2017 statements, including tweets, regarding an investigation of Mr. Comey?
- What is the reason for your continued criticism of Mr. Comey and his former deputy, Andrew G. McCabe?
- What did you think and do regarding the recusal of Mr. Sessions?
- What efforts did you make to try to get him to change his mind?
- Did you discuss whether Mr. Sessions would protect you, and reference past attorneys general?
- What did you think and what did you do in reaction to the news of the appointment of the special counsel?
- Why did you hold Mr. Sessions’s resignation until May 31, 2017, and with whom did you discuss it?
- What discussions did you have with Reince Priebus in July 2017 about obtaining the Sessions resignation? With whom did you discuss it?
- What discussions did you have regarding terminating the special counsel, and what did you do when that consideration was reported in January 2018?
- What was the purpose of your July 2017 criticism of Mr. Sessions?
- When did you become aware of the Trump Tower meeting?
- What involvement did you have in the communication strategy, including the release of Donald Trump Jr.’s emails?
- During a 2013 trip to Russia, what communication and relationships did you have with the Agalarovs and Russian government officials?
- What communication did you have with Michael D. Cohen, Felix Sater and others, including foreign nationals, about Russian real estate developments during the campaign?
- What discussions did you have during the campaign regarding any meeting with Mr. Putin? Did you discuss it with others?
- What discussions did you have during the campaign regarding Russian sanctions?
- What involvement did you have concerning platform changes regarding arming Ukraine?
- During the campaign, what did you know about Russian hacking, use of social media or other acts aimed at the campaign?
- What knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign, including by Paul Manafort, to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign?
- What did you know about communication between Roger Stone, his associates, Julian Assange or WikiLeaks?
- What did you know during the transition about an attempt to establish back-channel communication to Russia, and Jared Kushner’s efforts?
- What do you know about a 2017 meeting in Seychelles involving Erik Prince?
- What do you know about a Ukrainian peace proposal provided to Mr. Cohen in 2017?
Just try to imagine Donald Trump, a man who is known for having a short fuse and an even shorter attention span, somehow making it through all of those questions without exaggerating, obfuscating or flat out lying. That is a laughable proposition. Trump would never make it through that interview. It would be a disaster, which is why Dowd and many of Trump’s confidants have advised him against entertaining the idea of a face-to-face with Mueller.
You’ll note that a lot of the questions center not only on Comey, but on Trump’s efforts to intimidate or otherwise influence the behavior of Jeff Sessions, who the President has openly chastised on Twitter, implored to investigate political rivals and reportedly maligned in private for his resemblance to “Mr. Magoo”.
Most recently, Sessions appeared to try and save his own job by agreeing to fire Andrew McCabe, but the AG came under renewed pressure from Trump after Rosenstein personally signed off on the Michael Cohen raid, something Trump appears to believe would have never happened had Sessions not recused himself last year.
Before Rosenstein reassured Trump two Fridays ago, the President was rumored to be considering firing both Rosenstein and Sessions, presumably to clear the way for getting rid of Mueller, something Trump reportedly tried to do in December, the second such instance, after a plan to oust the special counsel last summer went awry when Don McGahn threatened to quit rather than go through with it.
In a companion piece to the post linked above (which details each question and provides you with context), the Times notes that “the special counsel told Mr. Dowd in March that though the president’s conduct is under scrutiny, he is not a target of the investigation, meaning Mr. Mueller does not expect to charge him.”
Somehow, given the nature of the questions listed above, I’m not sure that’s very reassuring – especially considering what might happen should Trump decide to try and answer them while sitting in the same room with Mueller.