If you managed to get the correct story today about Donald Trump’s confidential memo to Robert Mueller, congratulations, you’re in the minority. As I scroll through social media this evening, it’s become clear that most people – on both sides – ended up misunderstanding a key detail. As such, they fully misinterpreted the circumstances behind the memo.
Here’s the kicker: as spelled out in the New York Times story about the memo, but apparently not in big enough block letters for the speed-reading crowd, Trump sent this memo to Mueller five months ago. The memo is just now becoming news because the media has just now gotten its hands on the memo, and up until now, no one on the outside even knew it existed. But this isn’t some new threat on Trump’s part. He privately threatened to fire Mueller and pardon everyone back in January. We’re now in June. Let that sink in for a minute, because it changes everything.
Trump and his legal team made these threats five months ago, in an effort to scare Mueller into backing down. Instead, Mueller and the Feds have ramped things up. They’ve brought additional charges against Paul Manafort, convinced Rick Gates to cut a plea deal against Trump, targeted Roger Stone in a grand jury, gone after Jared Kushner’s closest friend in an effort at forcing him to flip on Kushner, indicted thirteen Russians, and raided Michael Cohen’s office, among other major moves. So what’s Trump done in response? Nothing.
Donald Trump and his legal team made those threats in January, and after Robert Mueller called their bluff, Team Trump backed down and didn’t do any of what it had threatened. As per usual, Trump is a man of big words and little meaningful action. No wonder Mueller is moving so aggressively; he gained the upper hand the minute he successfully called Trump’s bluff. If you want to know how badly Trump’s memo failed, consider that half his legal team has since resigned. Trump vs Mueller is far from over, but the Trump memo has already turned out to be a huge victory – for Mueller.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report