Donald trump wants you to hate robert mueller, too – bloomberg gas up yr hearse


Since his earliest days in Atlantic City, Trump also did business with organized crime figures, a practice he continued more recently in New York City when he helped develop the Trump SoHo Hotel. In yet another set of dustups, beginning in 2010, Trump University students and the New York State attorney general separately sued Trump’s company for fraud. Trump repeatedly denigrated a judge in one of the cases, then settled some of the claims for $25 million in 2016.

Now, as we all know, the Justice Department has tasked Robert Mueller with investigating whether Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with the Kremlin to tilt the 2016 campaign in Trump’s favor. Mueller is investigating possible obstruction of justice by the Trump camp as well as the Trump Organization’s business dealings — all of which is well within the special counsel’s broad mandate. The president has always disliked the investigation, a sentiment that was in full flower on Sunday when he took to Twitter to tell the world how he intended to interfere with it:

I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes – and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2018

Within hours of that tweet, the Justice Department announced it would ask its own inspector general to consider whether, as the president alleges, federal law enforcement officials “infiltrated or surveilled” Trump’s campaign for “Political Purposes” — and possibly at the behest of the “Obama Administration!” Whether Trump forces a full-blown probe is yet to be seen. On Monday afternoon, he met with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, FBI Director Christopher Wray, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly at the White House to discuss his concerns. Afterward, Rosenstein agreed to hand over “highly classified” information about an informant the FBI relied upon in its probe of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russians.

Trump, by the way, is well within his executive powers to “demand” that the Justice Department undertake any investigation he wants; the agency reports to him. Trump’s predecessors in the Oval Office — with the exception of Richard Nixon — have avoided turning the agency into a personal battering ram out of respect for broadly shared American values, such as the rule of law and the separation of powers. But that isn’t who Donald Trump is, and he has a chorus of supporters who tell him that meddling in a federal investigation that involves him, his family and their advisers is perfectly fine.

There’s Devin Nunes, a Republican congressman and steward of the House intelligence committee, who has used his committee’s powers to throw sand into Mueller’s machinery almost from the moment the Russia investigation began. Nunes had to recuse himself from all of that last year so an ethics probe into whether he improperly leaked classified information in coordination with the White House could move forward. He was exonerated in December. Soon afterward, he sought to disclose classified information and slag the FBI yet again, in tandem with the White House.

In recent days, Nunes and Trump have been jointly peddling the notion that the FBI planted a spy in Trump’s campaign to discredit the president before he could become the president. Nunes also requested information from the Justice Department about the confidential source the FBI used in its investigation of Trump-Russia contacts. Unsurprisingly, the agency had been hesitant to give Nunes the information.

Then there’s Rudy Giuliani, a Trump attorney and former federal law enforcement official who now has little respect for federal law enforcement. Giuliani has called on Mueller to limit the scope and duration of his investigation and suggested that he’s become chummy enough with Mueller’s team to know that they’re considering complying. When it comes to that secret FBI informant supposedly embedded in the Trump campaign, Giuliani’s had trouble, as lawyers and criminal investigators like to say, following “ the fact pattern.”

Asked by Chris Cuomo in a CNN interview on Friday about an informant, Giuliani struggled. “I don’t know for sure, nor does the president, if there really was one,” he said. “For a long time we’ve been told there was some kind of infiltration. At one time, the president thought it was a wiretap.”

To jog Giuliani’s memory: As NBC has reported, the FBI warned Trump in the summer of 2016 after he became the Republican nominee for president that “foreign adversaries, including Russia, would probably try to spy on and infiltrate his campaign.” Hillary Clinton’s campaign received a similar warning. It would have been decidedly odd for the FBI to warn both campaigns about infiltrators if the FBI itself, as Trump and Nunes would have it, was already doing the infiltrating.

Still, some other Trump supporters have tried to put a tighter spin on what the jabber about infiltration and a secret informant really means: It’s all about the “deep state” (i.e., a permanent shadow government of career bureaucrats and financiers deciding how the country is run). On Monday, Mark Penn, a former pollster for Bill Clinton, fingered the deep state as a sponsor of the Mueller investigation. Mueller’s goal, Penn wrote, is to “bring down Donald Trump.”

Nobody except Mueller himself knows what his goals are, of course. He is a Republican and a well-regarded law enforcement official who has made a career of running by-the-books investigations. One of his goals may be to simply run the Russia probe in the same fashion so that he and his team can get to the truth of a matter that touches on national security and good government. That interpretation isn’t on the boards for the Nuneses, Giulianis and Penns of the world, though. “You can’t fire Mueller,” Penn wrote. “He needs to be defeated.”

So if Trump’s Sunday tweet surprised you, if you thought that the power and the majesty of the office he inhabits were going to change him, and if you thought that the president would put respect for the law ahead of his own self-interest, well, now you know better.