We’re in an uneasy political hour with respect to the presidency. Mitch McConnell has spinelessly rubber-stamped Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration, unless he knows what he’s doing and is fine with letting Trump’s team languish in court. McConnell is certainly untrustworthy, but he’s a self-preserving Beltway schemer most of all. He won’t attach himself to this idiot’s wall fantasy in a way that will sink him, unless he’s so compromised that he has no choice. Time will tell. Still, declaring this nonsense “emergency” with de facto GOP Senate approval telegraphs Trump’s willingness to take authoritarian measures when he’s beat, and his party’s unwillingness to challenge him.
William Barr, George H.W. Bush’s Attorney General during Bush’s lame duck Iran-Contra pardons, was just confirmed to the same position under Donald Trump. He’s been frustratingly unclear on his willingness to release the Mueller report and the legality of indicting a sitting president. More unease, especially when conflated with Senate Intel Committee chair Richard Burr’s nebulous claim that there is a “lack of evidence” of collusion.
Is Trump dick-moving his way to absolution? A population that had its vote stolen and has had to endure a criminally imbecilic president misrepresent them for two years and counting is worried. It’s easy to lose faith in the process.
The thing to remember is: if you’re on the side of the Mueller investigation, you’re on the side of a legal process that has resulted in 35 indictments, including Trump’s campaign chairman, lawyer, and national security adviser in less than two years. An investigation that is on the verge of uncovering a lie involving Russian collusion by Paul Manafort so dark that he has risked the rest of his life protecting it. A process that will continue through a recent six-month grand jury extension on a key case. A process that, according to Trump lackeys, should be wrapping up any day now despite that fact. Right.
Authoritarian national emergency? That goes to court. Pardons? Considering Trump’s surprise at Barr and Mueller’s close relationship, and the fact that Trump-Russia is an entirely different animal than Iran-Contra, it would be completely irrational for Barr to suddenly become Trump’s biggest DOJ asset now. It doesn’t add up. Barr has no effect on pardons of state level charges anyway.
Richard Burr? He’s GOP, he’s out of the loop from the separate Mueller investigation, and he’s the last person anyone should expect to reveal damning collusion evidence. Burr has also been vague as to the type of evidence he’s babbling about, whether it be direct or circumstantial. Circumstantial evidence is not only admissible in court, varies from strong to weak, case to case. Public records are teeming with such evidence. Whatever Burr’s motivations are, he has no say in any Mueller investigation indictments anyway.
In short: not much has changed. It’s another case of Trumpworld grasping for wins while barreling recklessly into the stiff headwinds of an investigation whose momentum looks to be inevitably gaining toward ending the Trump presidency. Mueller’s next move will likely demonstrate the flimsiness and desperation of Trump’s dwindling defenders.
Chuck is a former community reporter, columnist, and Army veteran