By his own account, Donald Trump has been busy reading the musings of “great scholars” lately.
Under normal circumstances, that would be every bit as laughable as his contention that “document study” takes precedence over watching cable news during “executive time”.
But in this case, it’s at least possible that Trump has in fact taken an interest in what the academic community has to say, because the reference to “scholars” came in response to questions posed by Bloomberg about the Robert Mueller probe.
And while it’s probably safe to say the President hasn’t been personally perusing case law, it’s not a stretch to suggest that his interest is piqued when it comes to legalese because after all, he might be going to prison.
“I view it as an illegal investigation,” Trump told Bloomberg, in a sweeping interview published on Thursday. “There should have never been a special counsel”, he continued, before adding the following:
I’m not saying anything, I’m just telling you this: You read the great scholars, the great legal.
And no, there’s not a typo in there. That is, there are no words left off the end of that quote. He’s using “legal” as a noun.
Trump has of course taken his public criticism of the special counsel probe up several notches over the past month. On July 29, following an extremely contentious Twitter exchange with the New York Times, and hot on the heels of CNN airing the audio of a taped conversation then-candidate Trump had with Michael Cohen related to payments to Playmate Karen McDougal, the President tore into Mueller, tweeting the following in a furious Sunday evening volley:
Is Robert Mueller ever going to release his conflicts of interest with respect to President Trump, including the fact that we had a very nasty & contentious business relationship, I turned him down to head the FBI (one day before appointment as S.C.) & Comey is his close friend.
Also, why is Mueller only appointing Angry Dems, some of whom have worked for Crooked Hillary, others, including himself, have worked for Obama….And why isn’t Mueller looking at all of the criminal activity & real Russian Collusion on the Democrats side-Podesta, Dossier?
That presaged an all-out media blitz by Rudy Giuliani who attempted to move the goal posts on the collusion story towards “collusion is not a crime” and away from “there was no collusion.” Suffice to say that didn’t go well.
The legal news would get far worse shortly thereafter. Michael Cohen pleaded guilty and implicated the President in open court, Paul Manafort was convicted and now faces a second trial and Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg was granted immunity by federal prosecutors. The New York Times would subsequently reveal that White House Counsel Don McGahn may have accidentally implicated Trump in obstruction during some 30 hours of interviews with Mueller (of course everyone, including Don’s attorney, claims McGahn didn’t say the President had done anything wrong). This week, Trump confirmed that McGahn is stepping down.
Now, it looks as though an indictment for Trump or his children isn’t out of the question, no matter what precedent says.
As the walls close in, Trump has turned his attention back to embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is now almost sure to be fired. According to reports, the President has spoken with his aides and attorneys in recent weeks about getting rid of Sessions and some key Republicans are now on board. For the latest on that, see “‘I Think The Fix Is In’: Trump Said To Discuss Firing Jeff Sessions With Lawyers, Aides“.
Well, in the same Bloomberg interview linked above, Trump suggested that Sessions’ job is safe at least until the midterms are over. Some lawmakers have advised the President that getting rid of the AG before November is a risky move. Here’s what Trump told Bloomberg about Sessions:
I just would love to have him do a great job. I’d love to have him look at the other side.
Note how Trump equates “doing a great job” with using the Department of Justice as a weapon against the White House’s foes. That’s straight out of the autocrat playbook, whether Trump realizes it or not. He wouldn’t comment on what would happen to Sessions after the midterms.
Asked by Bloomberg whether Weisselberg’s immunity deal means Allen betrayed him, Trump said this: “100% he didn’t”.
We’ll see if that assessment changes in the months ahead.
In the meantime, it probably wouldn’t be a terrible idea for Trump to keep studying the works of “great legal scholars” in case he ends up having to represent himself when everyone else abandons ship.