Donald Trump Thinks He Can Bully Robert Mueller

In light of all the other news this week, a statement from Rudy Giuliani didn’t get enough attention:

In an interview Tuesday, Giuliani said, “If [Mueller] doesn’t get it done in the next two or three weeks we will just unload on him like a ton of bricks.” He added, “Write the damn report so we can see it and rebut it.”

That is the personal lawyer of a president, who’s the subject of a federal investigation, threatening to “unload” on the special prosecutor if he doesn’t wind down his probe soon. Does it get any more obstruction-y than that?

Meanwhile, the president just revoked the security clearance of the former CIA director. The actual impact is that John Brennan will no longer be available for consultation to this administration—which wasn’t likely to happen anyway. The White House issued a statement defending their rationale.

Mr. Brennan has recently leveraged his status as a former high-ranking official with access to highly sensitive information to make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations — wild outbursts on the internet and television — about this Administration. Mr. Brennan’s lying and recent conduct, characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary, is inconsistent with access to the Nation’s most closely held secrets, and facilitates the aim of our adversaries, which is to sow division and chaos.

The first thing that jumped out at me from that portion of the statement was to ask, “Can you spell p.r.o.j.e.c.t.i.o.n?” The absurdity of this president criticizing someone for outrageous allegations, wild outbursts on the internet, lying and frenzied commentary won’t be lost on anyone. Basically, Trump admitted that he is attempting to intimidate a critic. The president later extended that threat to other critics, including James Clapper, James Comey, Michael Hayden, Sally Yates, Susan Rice, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr.

During an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump took it one step further and made it a direct threat to the Mueller investigation.

Mr. Trump cited Mr. Brennan as among those he held responsible for the investigation …

“I call it the rigged witch hunt, [it] is a sham,” Mr. Trump said in an interview. “And these people led it!”

He added: “So I think it’s something that had to be done.”

As Greg Sargent points out, this is a repeat of what the president did with the firing of former FBI director James Comey.

Trump originally floated as his fake rationale the memo authored by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, which criticized Comey’s unfairness to Hillary Clinton during the email investigation. This was absurd — Trump seized on Comey’s public July 2016 criticism of Clinton as ammunition against her — but then Trump admitted on national television that he had actually fired Comey over anger at the Russia investigation.

Someone with Trump’s limited capabilities probably won’t connect the dots and realize that it was his firing of Comey that sparked the appointment of a special counsel in the first place. But that’s the likely outcome of a direct threat to a federal investigation. People who have experience being in charge of these probes have dealt with some of the most world-renowned bullies–and they don’t tend to take kindly to threats. Based on what we’ve seen from Robert Mueller, this will all just get added to the case he’s building.

I can’t say that I have any direct knowledge of how mafia bosses and New York real estate moguls do their business. Perhaps these kinds of threats work in those circles, and Trump doesn’t know any other way to handle the fact that he’s about to be exposed for the criminal he’s always been. The one thing I’m pretty sure of, though, is that Mueller and his team aren’t the kind of people who surrender to bullies.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.