At the end of a week in which the media couldn’t stop talking about how Donald Trump might fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, we saw Mueller respond not with a whimper but with a bang. He leaked the fact that he’s been sitting on fifty thousand Trump team emails all along, making clear to Trump’s people that he has them nailed if they can’t keep Trump from trying to fire him. On Monday evening, Mueller fired yet another warning shot at Trump, although it’s one which requires some analysis.
Mueller’s people are now leaking to the media that they plan to be on the job all the way through 2018, according to an on-air report by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. We know by now that nothing ever leaks from Mueller’s camp unless it’s a strategic move on his part. So why would Mueller suddenly want Trump to know that the Trump-Russia investigation is set to last another year? Sure, it’s a warning shot about how much deeper this scandal is going to run. But it also feels like something else: a negotiation.
CNN is reporting that Trump’s attorneys have been telling him that the investigation is going to wrap up any minute and that he’ll be personally exonerated. As we’ve previously explained, his attorneys are snowing him, and their motivations still aren’t entirely clear. But for whatever reason, they’re trying to keep Trump from doing anything rash. They’re meeting with Mueller this week, and it’s clear they’re trying to get something they can take back to Trump that will keep him satisfied and complacent, so that Mueller can continue working.
Robert Mueller, being a hardliner, appears to be setting the table for a hard nosed negotiation. He’s starting by publicly putting it out there that his investigation could end up taking another year. This may be an attempt at letting Donald Trump’s lawyers negotiate him down to six months or three months, so that Trump will agree to continue not trying to fire him. Whatever Mueller is up to here, it’s four dimensional chess.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report