Ever since The Washington Post reported two days ago, that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, in an attempt to interview Mr. Trump, told Trump’s legal team that Trump was being investigated, but that Mr. Mueller “does not consider him a criminal target at this point,” a parade of pundits and analysts have chimed in to provide Americans with an analysis of what this may mean for Mr. Trump.
Much of this discussion has focused on the legal distinction between what Federal prosecutors consider a “subject” and “target,” in an investigation. Still, other discussions have focused on the divisiveness of Mr. Trump’s advisers, with some arguing Mueller’s news “an assurance,” and others rightfully noting how “subjects” often turn into “targets” during the course of an investigation.
My colleague, Sean Colarossi deals with that distinction quite handily in his reporting the night the Post broke the story, while reminding the reader that Mr. Mueller was in fact, preparing a report on Mr. Trump.
Mr. Colarossi’s reporting aligns with the Post’s as they report:
“The special counsel also told Trump’s lawyers that he is preparing a report about the president’s actions while in office and potential obstruction of justice, according to two people with knowledge of the conversations.”
While each of these components of the Post’s report are worthy of pundits and analyst’s discussion, may I suggest there to be further areas of that reporting that are fodder for analysis?
First, the Post reports that sources within the White House describe Mr. Trump as “expressing relief” at the news while making him more determined to meet with Mr. Mueller.
Why is Mr. Trump relieved?
This is not just an argument over semantics, especially when dealing with Mr. Trump who never seems unable to describe his feelings on any matter to the American people.
Let me be clear while reinforcing the Post’s stellar reporting: This is a President who believes his entire agenda has been thwarted by this Russian investigation. He makes this claim repeatedly, always accusing the investigation of being a “witch hunt,” and “a hoax.” He has persisted in repeating and making clear that “there is no collusion or obstruction” on a host of occasions.
Watch the video below to see Mr. Trump make this claim at least ten times as of December, 1, 2017:
Furthermore, Mr. Trump fired former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Comey, after he testified before Congress, revealing his agency was investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians.
According to previous reporting by The Washington Post, Mr. Trump was furious that Mr. Comey did not make clear that Trump “was not personally under investigation.” In fact, Mr. Trump when issuing Mr. Comey’s “pink slip” basically thanked him for “indicating he was not under investigation.”
Said, Mr. Trump in that dismissal:
“While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.”
Again: Given what the reader knows about Mr. Trump’s personality, his propensity to “tell it like it is,” and his feeling that “this Russia thing,” is supposedly made up while preventing his agenda from being advanced, do you really think “feeling a sense of relief” is what we should expect coming from Trump, given this news?
Or, do you think he would publicly brag how he felt vindicated? Specifically, how would you react if accused of such a crime you did not do, only to be told you were not a target?
The reader may be tempted to believe we are relying on sources other than Mr. Trump for “their” characterization of his feelings, and rightfully so. But let us not forget: Those people work around Mr. Trump on a daily basis, and if anyone could properly describe Trump’s feelings, it would be them.
Why does Mr. Trump feel a sense of “relief,” and not vindication?
Second, Mr. Trump has had no issue in the past of making clear through Twitter or various other media how he has had nothing to do with the Russians interfering with our election.
In other words, Mr. Trump is quite public about all things Russia, isn’t he? According to the Post’s reporting, this information was passed along to Mr. Trump’s advisers in March.
Question: Why the silence?
Perhaps you find yourself sitting there saying to yourself that Mr. Trump’s legal team may very well have instructed him against taking this tack. And you might be correct however, please remember that Mr. Trump’s legal team and advisers are at best split on how to deal with this news.
Furthermore, remember back in March how headline after headline stated Mr. Trump was “getting confident in his role as President?” Do you also recall that it was at this time Mr. Dowd left Mr. Trump’s employ from the legal team due to Mr. Trump failing to “follow his legal advice?” And, when did Mr. Trump really begin looking unhinged on Twitter? March.
Are we to believe Mr. Trump’s behavior is mere coincidence, or could it be that he has gotten more comfortable lying, with the false belief that he is out of legal peril? In criminal justice, when a person engages in a serial crime authorities refer to that behavior as evolving.
Is Mr. Trump evolving in his lying because he feel he has dodged a legal bullet here?
Watch this video to see a collection of Trump’s lies:
Finally, when reaching out to the Special Counsel’s Office for comment on the article the Post states:
“Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel’s office, declined to comment.”
This should not surprise us. Mr. Mueller has not commented on any journalistic query regarding the investigation thus far.
Let’s be clear: Mr. Trump has however, previously contacted specific news agencies out of the blue and I find myself wondering what would stop him from spinning this news from Mueller in a way which suits him now?
While the other analyses provided by pundits on our media are beneficial, I would like to see these specific questions addressed too.
How about you?
A social psychologist by day, political analyst and journalist by night, Dr. Mark Bear has built an established audience by printing facts, without click-bait, sensationalism, or hyperbole. He is married to his wife of 34 years, and both he and his wife, Susan, have a Schnauzer named Shadow. Follow along by connecting with Doc on Facebook or Twitter under the handle Dr. Progressive!