Can everyone please shut up about Trump
Donald Trump tends to be himself the worst enemy. Many of the problems the US president faces stem from the fact that he simply cannot shut up. If he thinks something, he has to say it, as wrong, embarrassing or bizarre as it may be. For example, the fact that the whole of Washington is currently speculating openly about Trump's state of mind is mainly due to the fact that the President of the United States had found it necessary to tell his country and the world via Twitter that he was a psychic " very stable genius ".
One can therefore imagine that the announcement by special investigator Robert Mueller that he would also want to question Trump personally at some point in the coming weeks triggered a certain nervousness among the president's lawyers. Because on the one hand, this wish indicates that Mueller could slowly come to the end of his investigations - the most important witness is last. On the other hand, there is hardly a more delicate conversation Trump could have in Washington than one with Mueller. If the president is not careful and gossips or lies under oath, it can cost him his collar.
Former FBI chief Mueller is investigating on behalf of the Justice Department whether there were any collusion between Trump's team and the Russian government during the 2016 election campaign. The US secret services are certain that Moscow attempted to harm the Democrat Hillary Clinton and to help the Republican Trump through broad sabotage. It is unclear whether Trump or his people knew about it and possibly even helped the Russians. Such a "collusion" could have been illegal.
In the course of the investigation, all sorts of dubious contacts between key Trump employees and Russian representatives have become known. Mueller has already indicted four former campaign workers - among other things because they lied to him about these contacts. However, there is no clear evidence of any knowledgeable collaboration between Trump's team and Moscow.
In addition, there is so far no indication that Trump was personally involved in any kind of collusion with Moscow. The impact, however, fell right next to the president: even his son Donald Junior is suspected of having met with Russian envoys whom Trump's former strategist Stephen Bannon described as "treasonous and unpatriotic". Trump's former security adviser Michael Flynn was charged for lying to Mueller's investigators about his conversations with Russians. The president himself has so far been spared hits.
But after all that is known about Mueller's request in the White House, the investigator is less concerned with Trump's relationship with Moscow. As the New York Times and the Washington Post reported on Tuesday that Mueller wanted to ask Trump about his interventions in favor of Flynn with former FBI director James Comey; and Comey's later expulsion.
This suggests that Mueller suspects the president less of collusion with Moscow during the 2016 election campaign than of later obstruction of the judiciary. Should that be the case, an old Washington wisdom would prove to be true: It is not the scandal that a politician stumbles over - but the attempt to cover up this scandal afterwards.
Solid chain of clues
In the case of Trump, this means that even if the president did not make any illegal agreements with Russia during the election campaign, he could later have made himself liable to prosecution. Because, according to Comey, Trump more or less openly asked him in the spring of 2017 to stop the investigation against Flynn because of his talks with Russian government representatives. When Comey didn't do that, Trump kicked him out. And then the president said in interviews that the dismissal had something to do with Comey's Russia investigation. It's quite a solid chain of evidence that Trump wanted to end an FBI investigation that made him uncomfortable. Whether he was hushing up a collaboration with Moscow, just helping his friend Flynn or just showing who the boss is, then becomes secondary - Mueller could use this to construct an indictment of obstruction of justice.
This also applies to a second case: at the "treacherous" meeting that Donald Junior had with a Russian lawyer in 2016, it was also about this woman's offer to deliver incriminating material about Hillary Clinton to the Trump campaign. Such information, which came from e-mails presumably stolen by the Russians, was then published by the platform Wikileaks during the election campaign. According to Bannon, Donald Jr. should have informed the FBI immediately after the Russian contacted him. Instead, he met the lady in Trump Tower. When this became known, President Donald Trump personally dictated a press release aboard the government aircraft, Air Force One, according to which the conversation was only about the Russian ban on American adoption. As we now know, that was an outright lie - and possibly also an obstacle to the judiciary.
So there are certainly events on which Trump should rather be very cautious. His tendency to go into such conversations unprepared and then improvise and tell what is on his mind could be dangerous for him. On the other hand, Trump has litigated for half his life. He already knows how to talk to the representatives of the other side and the importance of an appointment with the investigators from the almighty FBI.
And it seems like Trump has learned a lot in this regard. While he still angrily dubbed the Russia investigation a "witch hunt", dismissed the accusation of collusion with Moscow as a "joke" and called Comey a liar and a traitor, he refrained from direct attacks on Mueller. The former FBI director has an impeccable reputation, he is considered a calm, tough investigator who does not allow himself to be intimidated. Perhaps Trump was told that Mueller could be an even more dangerous enemy than himself.
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