Since my last post President Trump has been treated like royalty in Saudi Arabia and like a criminal at home. Even more than usual the news makes my head spin in circles like that girl possessed by the devil in The Exorcist.
First, the Comey vs. Trump battle over truth which I wrote about in my last post promises to get real lively as Comey has agreed to speak in an open Senate Intelligence Committee hearing after Memorial day. He seems to have picked that committee because it appears to be the most bi-partisan in congress when it comes to the Trump/Russia investigation.
However, there might be a complication. Since my post a “new sheriff” is in town. Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General handling the Trump campaign Russia connection, has surprised many by appointing a special counsel to investigate this whole matter of the Trump team and Russia, not only as a matter of foreign interference in our election but for possible criminal activities.
He appointed Robert Mueller, former FBI director in both Democratic and Republican administrations, whose apolitical competence is one of the few things agreed upon on both sides of the aisle. In his new role “sheriff” Mueller might play some kind of role in Comey’s testimony.
Rosenstein’s decision to appoint a special counsel seems tied to how Trump fired Comey. Trump made the decision impetuously and then asked Rosenstein to write up a rationale (which few bought) which then Trump used as the cause for the firing (1). Eventually, Trump came clean, but he tarnished Rosenstein’s stellar reputation by first making the firing seem like Rosenstein’s idea. It is rumored that Rosenstein threatened to resign if Trump didn’t straighten the record.
Trump did admit the truth but apparently that wasn’t enough to satisfy Rosenstein. Appointing a special counsel seems like Rosenstein’s way of fully grabbing his integrity back. Take that Mr. President.
So, with his unique ability to make matters worse for himself, Trump now has the immediate threat of Comey to deal with and the threat of Mueller’s investigations down the line.
At least this gives many Republican legislators in swing districts some cover from constituents who want to see this Russian connection fully investigated. Now the congressmen and women can say Mueller is on the case and we don’t want to interfere.
With all of this turmoil at home Trump must have loved Saudi Arabia where he was welcomed as a king. Yesterday he gave a speech that seems to have tread tricky territory quite well. Sticking with the teleprompter of course. There are many angles to explore, but I’ll save that for later. For now let’s just go with TV commentator emeritus Bob Schieffer saying at least the address was “presidential” and not “the rant of some angry guy at the end of the bar.”
I know, I know……. There is something very odd when our president acting presidential merits praise, but we have fallen down the rabbit hole into Trump world. His acting presidential may be the most we can ask for while he and we are sorting out what his foreign policy actually is.
For a start I’ll dissect that Saudi Arabia speech in a future post.
(1). This article shows that Rosenstein stands by that memo. He thinks Comey should have been fired for abusing his position, but he resented being made the fall guy in Trump’s story (you have noticed, haven’t you, that Trump always has a fall guy, so he can’t be blamed for anything).
As for few people buying the memo, much of it chided Comey for his public treatment of Clinton. That would be fine were it not for Trump cheering every step Comey took that cast doubt on Clinton, hardly a true reason to now fire him.