What do you do when you’re facing two bad choices, either of which will destroy you, and you know you’re ultimately going to be forced to pick one? You go back and forth in your mind about which unacceptable outcome might be the least awful. You think you’ve made your choice, and then days later you’re leaning in the other direction. That brings us to Donald Trump, and the choice he has to make that’ll sink him either way.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is now reportedly just a few weeks from being ready to interview Trump about his role in the Russia scandal, at least with regard to obstruction of justice. If Trump voluntarily gives the interview, he’ll either have to confess to obstruction, or lie about obstruction. Lying to a federal investigator is a serious crime itself, and Mueller surely has enough hard evidence to nail Trump on any lies. So if Trump speaks to Mueller at all, he’s going down on criminal charges. Trump’s other option would be to plead the fifth, which would end him politically.
Trump told a group of reporters just a few days ago on camera that he’s willing to speak to Mueller because he’s innocent. Now today Trump told reporters that “it seems unlikely that you’d even have an interview” (link). Of course Trump is not innocent, and he knows it. He also knows that speaking to Mueller will doom him, and refusing to speak to Mueller will doom him.
If Donald Trump were firmly committed to a course of action with regard to being interviewed by Robert Mueller, perhaps it would be a sign that, at least in his mind, he still has a way out of it. But Trump’s hesitance and rapid flip flopping means that, regardless of his trademark obliviousness and obvious mental decline, he understands the gravity of the situation well enough to know that he’s hosed no matter how he plays this.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report