One of the things you can almost always count on from Donald Trump is that, no matter the circumstances, he will open his mouth and shoot himself in the foot. That is precisely what he did on Wednesday night during his call-in interview with Sean Hannity. Take a look at this clip.
Trump claims Mueller probe "would not have happened" if Barr had always been AG pic.twitter.com/zia5R8zQbs
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) March 28, 2019
The president doesn’t seem to understand how our justice system works. As is often the case, the investigation conducted by Mueller was initiated to determine if a crime had been committed. That is standard practice in cases like this.
Given what we know about Trump’s demand for complete loyalty, his praise of William Barr is a damning statement on the attorney general’s credibility in this matter. Anyone who comes up short on the president’s loyalty test (i.e., Jeff Sessions) has been consistently attacked, no matter how they otherwise comply with his wishes.
But the most damning thing the president said about Barr was that, if he had been the attorney general from the beginning, this whole investigation wouldn’t have happened. What a statement like that overlooks is that a major part of Mueller’s mandate was to investigate how Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 election. The results of that were documented in two sets of indictments that provided the country with a lot of detail, including the fact that their agenda was to support Trump and disparage Clinton.
You might be surprised that Hannity actually asked a question about what we could do to stop that from happening again. In other words, even Trump’s chief enabler acknowledged that Russia tried to interfere in the election. The president’s answer was telling.
Asked again by Hannity how to thwart Russia this time, Trump turns back to 2016 and says "they had zero impact on the election of 2016" and no impact "on votes."
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) March 28, 2019
As is often the case, Trump blamed it on Obama and, when pressed again, said that it had no impact on the outcome of the election. I suppose that there is a covert admission in those statements that Russia did, in fact, attempt to interfere in the election—something the president has been unwilling to admit overtly. But he has consistently refused to even discuss what we can do to stop them from doing it again. It is unclear whether that is simply about denial because his ego is damaged by the insinuation that Russia helped him get elected, or an invitation to a repeat performance in 2020. Perhaps both.
What we have is a president who demonstrated that he doesn’t understand the basics of how our criminal justice system works, cast doubt on the credibility of the attorney general, and exposed the fact that he is—at minimum—more concerned about stoking his own ego than protecting our elections.
We’ve gone so far down the rabbit hole with Trump that those kind of statements are taken for granted and don’t even shock us anymore. That is a snapshot of a country in trouble.