they are pursuing a fresh line of attack in public, shifting from proclaiming the president’s innocence to attempting to undermine the probe itself.
.. Giuliani previously said that he’d negotiate an end to the probe within a week or two, which didn’t happen, and the president said he was wrong about some aspects of a reimbursement to former fixer Michael Cohen. But Giuliani’s remarks make clear that far from ruling out an interview, the president’s team continues to work toward a meeting with Mueller.
.. it was only two months ago that Trump first singled Mueller out by name in a tweet.
.. The new strategy, particularly as demonstrated by Giuliani on CNN, follows three prongs.
- First, impugn the investigators themselves.
- Second, argue that the investigation was tainted from the start.
- Third, argue that Mueller cannot indict Trump anyway.
.. The Cobb-Dowd strategy began with the assumption that Trump had nothing to hide. The new strategy, however, seems to take as its premise that Trump is guilty of at least something.
Mueller, a lifelong Republican who has served presidents of both parties, is a tougher case to make, so Trump has simply lied, claiming for example that Mueller worked for Barack Obama for eight years. Mueller was FBI director for nearly five years under Obama, having been appointed by George W. Bush... Giuliani, for his part, has referred to officials in the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, both of which he praised in the recent past, as “storm troopers.”.. They argue that the fact that the FBI was investigating Trump as far back as 2016 shows not only political motivation, but also that there is nothing to investigate... The setting of arbitrary timelines is a common motif. Trump has repeatedly said there is no evidence of collusion, even as two of his former aides have pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about contacts with the Russians, and despite the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between a Russian lawyer, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and others. Giuliani on Friday charged that Mueller’s probe “$20 million later has come up with nothing,” when in fact the investigation has been unusually prolific.
.. It may or may not be true that DOJ placed a spy in the Trump campaign, but there’s no public evidence for it. Someone inside informing the FBI about goings-on is not the same as the Justice Department sending someone under cover. Nor is it scandalous for law enforcement to use legal methods to investigate possible crimes... We’ve heard this again and again. First, Trump claimed that Obama had “tapped” Trump’s “wires” during the campaign. This remark turned out to be nonsense, the result of a game of speculation in conservative media. Trump’s Justice Department said it was not true. Later, when it became clear that Manafort had been surveilled, some of Trump’s defenders claimed it vindicated his wiretap claim, which it did not, as I explained at the time. That’s a good reason to take the most recent claims skeptically, too. When Cuomo pointed out that Trump has often said false things, Giuliani blustered, “That’s a disgraceful comment about the president of the United States.” But he didn’t say Cuomo was wrong... if anyone did commit crimes, they were being entrapped and led into crimes by DOJ infiltrators who sought to take down Trump’s campaign... One doesn’t talk about whether or not one’s client can be indicted unless one believes that one’s client is likely to have committed some indictable crime. But the presumption of guilt has increasingly suffused the message of Trump defenders over the last month. It also surges through repeated warnings from Trump allies that Mueller might try to catch the president in a “perjury trap,” as though Trump could not avoid that by telling the truth... The president appreciates aggressive media responses, and Giuliani is to a certain extent just aping the president’s own words.
Progress in many areas where the parties could work together is being blocked because of the need for Trump and the Republican Party to kowtow to conservative ultras.
.. It was ironic that hours after Trump’s triple axel on the question, Judge William Alsup halted the president’s original effort to end DACA by citing Trump’s own words to make the case against him.
“Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military?” Trump had said in September. Well, the other Trump seemed to want to do just that.
.. Trump is also stuck with his promise to build the border wall despite the fact that a USA Today survey of Congress last fallfound that fewer than 25 percent of Republicans were willing to endorse the plan. But the wall is all about his brand.
.. The cost of extremism is obvious on other matters as well. The Children’s Health Insurance Program is a genuinely bipartisan achievement that, at low cost, gets health care to 9 million young Americans. But the renewal is hung up because House Republicans are demanding that it be paid for by cutting Obamacare spending on various preventive-care measures. Really? Since when is prevention a partisan issue?