Donald Trump’s efforts to undermine the special counsel probe and otherwise shake America’s faith in the country’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies have gone into overdrive over the last couple of weeks, presumably because the Mueller probe is hitting closer to home – literally.
If former Trump fixer Michael Cohen is telling the truth when it comes to his contention that the President knew about the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, it not only directly contradicts more than a dozen explicit denials of prior knowledge by Trump, his lawyers and surrogates, but also means Don Jr. lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee last year.
On July 29, the President lashed out at Mueller on Twitter in an absurd series of tweets that appeared to reference a long standing dispute over green fees. Those tweets presaged a renewed media push by Rudy Giuliani, who did incalculable damage to Trump’s defense the next day over the course of several bizarre appearances on CNN and Fox News.
Trump and Giuliani have variously attempted to move the goal posts over the last two weeks, backing off the “no collusion” claims in favor of a “collusion is not a crime” pitch. Giuliani has also been keen to insist the special counsel probe should be wrapped up by September 1.
Despite reports that Mueller is quite literally watching Trump’s Twitter account for evidence of obstruction, the President continues to tweet about the investigation, including multiple attempts to pressure Jeff Sessions into shutting the whole thing down.
Over the weekend, just hours before hosting a literal biker party in Bedminster, Trump accused Sessions of being “scared stiff and Missing in Action”.
Trump has tweeted about Strzok 24 times since December, usually in the context of his “great lover” Lisa Page who the President has taken to creepily calling “lovely”.
Strzok’s employment was under review by the FBI and on Monday, he was fired. Trump is obviously thrilled, tweeting the following:
Agent Peter Strzok was just fired from the FBI – finally. The list of bad players in the FBI & DOJ gets longer & longer. Based on the fact that Strzok was in charge of the Witch Hunt, will it be dropped? It is a total Hoax. No Collusion, No Obstruction – I just fight back!
Apparently believing that wasn’t sufficient to get his point across, the President tweeted this four minutes later:
Just fired Agent Strzok, formerly of the FBI, was in charge of the Crooked Hillary Clinton sham investigation. It was a total fraud on the American public and should be properly redone!
So just to be clear, that’s Trump
demanding asking that the Mueller probe be “dropped” and then explicitly calling for Hillary Clinton to be investigated. In other words, that is Trump leaning even more autocratic than usual, and who can blame him? This is precisely how autocracies take root. Each incremental “win” when it comes to commandeering the organs of government emboldens the executive further.
This comes just months after Trump orchestrated the firing of Andrew McCabe and just weeks after the President moved to strip the security clearances of former officials who have criticized him. It would be horrifying if it weren’t so laughably transparent.
It goes without saying that Trump is behind this too. “The decision to fire Special Agent Strzok is not only a departure from typical bureau practice but also contradicts Director Wray’s testimony to Congress and his assurances that the FBI intended to follow its regular process”, Strzok’s attorney Aitan Goelman said, in a statement.
Here’s a bit more from WaPo:
Aitan Goelman, Strzok’s lawyer, said FBI Deputy Director David L. Bowdich ordered the firing on Friday – even though the director of the FBI office that normally handles employee discipline had decided Strzok should face only a demotion and 60-day suspension. Goelman said the move undercuts the FBI’s repeated assurances that Strzok would be afforded the normal disciplinary process.
“This isn’t the normal process in any way more than name,” Goelman said, adding in a statement, “This decision should be deeply troubling to all Americans.”
During a June congressional hearing, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray said Strzok had been referred to the Office of Professional Responsibility – which he referred to as the bureau’s “independent disciplinary arm” – and that officials would “not hesitate to hold people strictly accountable.” Wray promised that process would be “done by the book.”
At this point, Trump is just digging himself a hole.
The irony inherent in the whole “deep state” meme is that if there is in fact a “deep state” that’s determined to oust Trump, the idea that a man who wouldn’t even be able to spell his own name if he didn’t have pictures of his casinos to reference, is going to triumph in a battle against a secretive cabal of lifelong intelligence operatives seems even more far-fetched than the “deep state” narrative itself.