Sometimes you wonder if Donald Trump is just a man resigned to his own fate.
It’s hard to conjure another plausible rationale for explaining why he continues to obstruct justice in real time, on Twitter, even when he knows that Robert Mueller is monitoring his tweets for evidence of obstruction.
On July 26, theÂ New York TimesÂ reported that the special counsel may be angling to cite Trumpâ€™s tweets as evidence of witness intimidation.
“The special counsel is scrutinizing tweets and negative statements from the president about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the former F.B.I. director James Comey,” the Times wrote, citing three people briefed on the investigation before noting that “several of the remarks came as Trump was also privately pressuring the men â€” both key witnesses in the inquiry â€” about the investigation, and Mr. Mueller is examining whether the actions add up to attempts to obstruct the investigation by both intimidating witnesses and pressuring senior law enforcement officials to tamp down the inquiry.”
I can save Mueller some time: “yes”. Yes, Donald Trump is using his Twitter account to try and intimidate witnesses and because tweets are the very definition of “public information”, there’s no defense against those charges should Mueller decide to bring them and present other, supplementary evidence to support his contention.
The most famous instance of Trump pseudo-admitting to obstruction on Twitter was this tweet from December 2:
If he knew Flynn had lied to the FBI when he asked Comey to â€œlet it go,â€ well then thatâ€™s obstruction. Almost unequivocally.
Trump attorneyÂ John Dowd (who hasÂ since leftÂ the Presidentâ€™s legal team), attempted to clean up the mess a day later,Â telling ABC that he in fact wrote the tweet, a contention that raised more questions than it answered not the least of which was this: why would a lawyer put his client in legal jeopardy?
Apparently realizing that Trump had opened new doors for Mueller, Dowd tried something else â€“ heÂ told AxiosÂ that it is impossible for Trump to obstruct justice.
â€œThe PresidentÂ cannot obstruct justiceÂ because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitutionâ€™s Article II] and has every right to express his view of any caseâ€, Dowd said, before accusing anyone who characterized Trumpâ€™s tweet as an admission of obstruction of being â€œignorant and arrogantâ€.
The lesson from that episode was clear: Donald Trump puts himself in legal jeopardy with his incessant Twitter rants, which more often than not, are ill-conceived and full of half-truths.
But again, Trump continues to tweet things that clearly undermine his own defense in the obstruction case. For instance, over the weekend, just hours beforeÂ hosting a literal biker partyÂ inÂ Bedminster, Trump accused Sessions of being â€œscared stiff and Missing in Actionâ€.
Fast forward to Tuesday, and Trump took his criticism of Sessions up another notch in the wake of the FBI’s decision to fireÂ Peter Strzok.
“‘They were all in on it, clear Hillary Clinton and FRAME Donald Trump for things he didnâ€™t do'”, Trump tweeted, quoting Gregg Jarrett (a political “analyst” for Fox News and the author of an absurd new book called “The Russia Hoax”).
Trump tagged Fox & Friends in the tweet before declaring that “if we had a real Attorney General, this Witch Hunt would never have been started!”
As a reminder, the AprilÂ FBI raidÂ on Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen was conductedÂ on orders fromÂ Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein (a.k.a, â€œMr. Peepersâ€œ) after Mueller referred evidence to federal authorities in New York.
The involvement of â€œPeepersâ€ is the direct result of Sessionsâ€™ recusal, which Trump blames for everything under the sun. In angry comments delivered just after news of the Cohen raid hit, Trump explicitly mentioned Sessions and since then, Jeff has been battling to keep his job and has endured withering criticism from Trumpâ€™s increasingly unhinged Twitter feed.
In May, TrumpÂ essentially toldÂ his 54 million Twitter followers that he wishes Jeff had never been born. Now, he’s suggesting that Sessions isn’t a “real” attorney general because apparently, a “real” AG would assist the executive in obstructing a probe into election meddling by a hostile foreign power.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but one wonders how much more of this Sessions is prepared to take. Jeff’s reputation was never what one might call “sterling”, but his decision to bow to Trump and fire Andrew McCabe (who, by the way, oversaw a federal criminal investigation into Sessions last year) just days before his pension was set to vest, will go down as one of the more deplorable (pardon the pun) decisions in the history of the Justice Department.
And for what? What has Sessions received in return for putting up with this abuse on a weekly basis for a solid year now? Nothing. No loyalty from Trump. Just incessant public shaming.
In addition to attacking Sessions, Trump accidentally (one hopes) admitted that Peter Strzok was fired for being involved with an investigation of the President. Here’s Trump, quoting Judicial Watch:
Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch: â€œThe Strzok firing is as much about the Mueller operation as anything else. There would be no Mueller Special Councel to investigate so called collusion but for the machinations of Strzok & his colleagues at the top levels of the FBI. We know this…
…guy was corrupt and had anti-Trump animus. Strzok and others at the FBI should be criminally investigated for the way the conducted this investigation. Instead, Mueller is pretending nothing went wrong. He used Strzok, he used the Clinton DNC Dossier…the whole thing….
….should be shut down. The Strzok firing shows that the fundamental underpinnings of the investigation were corrupt. It should be shut down by the courts or by honest prosecutors.â€
Thank you Judicial Watch, I couldnâ€™t have said it better myself!
Right. Trump “couldn’t have said it better” himself. And the thing is, he shouldn’t be “saying it” at all, because that’s evidence of obstruction too.
If you’re being investigated by the FBI for obstructing a probe into whether you colluded with a foreign government to undermine the democratic process on the way to winning the White House, you absolutely should not be on Twitter admitting that an FBI employee was fired for his role in that investigation. It doesn’t matter whether that employee was conflicted or whether there was cause to fire that employee if you’re Trump pondering whether to tweet about this situation.
And he wasn’t done. Facing withering criticism for a string of recent verbal attacks on prominent African Americans including LeBron James, who Trump implicitly called dumb just days after James opened a school for at-risk children, the President decided it would be a good idea to callÂ former senior White House advisor and Apprentice contestant Omarosa Manigault Newman a “dog”. Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the President:
When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didnâ€™t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!
On Monday, Newman told MSNBC’s Chris MatthewsÂ that she’s willing to cooperate withÂ Robert Mueller. Something tells me Trump’s Tuesday morning tweet isn’t going to dissuade her from that decision.