Waiting Around for Trump’s Big Purge

The White House released the following photo yesterday. Trump even included it in a now-deleted tweet.

Agricultural Roundtable with members of Congress and Governors, April 12, 2018.

If you look at a close-up of chief of staff John Kelly, you can see why the White House decided to take down the president’s tweet.

Presumably, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa is explaining some basic concepts of his state’s economy and their  farmers’ reliance on exports to China that would be negatively impacted in a trade war. Whatever the specifics, Kelly is cringing because it’s painful when an adult needs to be addressed like a first grader and that adult is the president of the United States and your boss.

It’s possible that this picture was not released by accident at all, but as evidence of the kind of disrespect Kelly shows the president in settings like this, which would certainly justify his termination as chief of staff. Did the White House already know that Kelly would be cited in James Comey’s book as saying that Trump and his advisers were “dishonorable people” for firing Comey the way they did? Did they know that Kelly told Comey that he intended to resign from the job he then held as Secretary of Homeland Security before Comey asked him to reconsider?

Nancy has already covered the steps the administration is taking to form predicates for firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, but the Wall Street Journal confirms that the process is in the works and also includes an intent to fire Jeff Sessions.

Two people who spoke to Mr. Trump during the week said they came away thinking both Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who appointed Mr. Mueller, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions would soon be gone, potentially sparking a political and constitutional crisis.

“It’s a matter of when, not if,” said one person who has discussed the matter with Mr. Trump.

“Eventually, it will happen,” a second person said, adding that the Cohen raid was “not good for the long-term relationship between the president and Sessions and Rosenstein.”

An “intent” to fire Jeff Sessions appears to be one of the four core pillars of the obstruction of justice case Mueller is building against Trump, and Nancy was correct to note that Mueller’s shop is the only possible source for that information. It came out now from an investigative team well-known for its lack of leaks because it wants Trump (and the public) to understand that an intent to fire Sessions and Rosenstein is already a criminal offense that will be part of an impeachment referral. Actually doing it would not help his case.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.