No matter how many times per minute the mainstream media is saying it, the Republicans in Congress are not trying to set the stage for Special Counsel Robert Mueller to be fired. If that were their goal, they would be taking an entirely different – and essentially opposite – approach than the one they’re taking. Based on the other moves they’re making with regard to Donald Trump and Russia, it’s become fairly clear what the Republicans are trying to do to Mueller.
If the Republican Congress wanted Robert Mueller gone, he’d be gone by now. They would have publicly said and done nothing, and would have instead sat back and quietly allowed Trump to get away with firing Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein. The last thing the Republicans in Congress want is to take the blame for Mueller’s firing, which would be extraordinarily unpopular with everyone outside of Trump’s base. Instead, the GOP is setting up the opposite scenario: it’s publicly attacking Mueller because it has every intention of letting him finish Trump off, and it wants to be able to make the case to Trump’s base that it tried to stop Mueller.
In other words, this is entirely about the 2018 congressional elections. The GOP is equally afraid of being punished by the anti-Trump Resistance and by Trump’s base. The Republicans in Congress, or most of them at least, have clearly chosen the path of ranting and raving about how awful Mueller is in order to placate Trump’s base, while allowing him to go ahead and take Trump down. Trump’s base generally only pays attention to rhetoric, not facts or details or actions, and never will figure out that the GOP could have stopped Mueller at any time. So this is all theater – and now we’re seeing the other half of the gameplan.
The Republican majority on the House Intelligence Committee is now publicly floating the idea of wrapping up its Trump-Russia investigation. They’ll likely announce that while some former Trump advisers are guilty of various crimes, Donald Trump himself is clean as a whistle. This will allow the GOP to further sell Trump’s base on the idea that it tried to save him. That way, when Robert Mueller ultimately proves Trump guilty as hell, the waters will have been muddied in the court of public opinion. For the GOP, this is not about protecting Trump, whom they don’t care about. This is all about the midterms. It always has been.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report