Trump has apparently been asking around about his ability to pardon family, aides, and even himself of crimes, which appears to be an admission of guilt of collusion with Russia. But that’s not the only sign of his panic. He has aides digging into the backgrounds of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team, looking for anything they can use to discredit them, and thus, effectively end the investigation.
These aides are looking for potential conflicts of interest, including past clients, whether or not they’ve donated to Democratic candidates (because obviously, donations to Republican candidates show that they’re completely neutral and non-partisan), and even the extent of Mueller’s relationship with fired FBI director James Comey.
Trump even tried to manufacture a conflict of interest out of thin air, telling The New York Times on Wednesday about Mueller’s interview to replace Comey at the FBI:
[Mueller] was sitting in that chair. We had a wonderful meeting… Of course, he was up here, and he wanted the job.
So, now what happens is, he leaves the office. Rosenstein leaves the office. The next day, he is appointed special counsel. I said, what the hell is this all about? Talk about conflicts? But he was interviewing for the job. There were many other conflicts that I haven’t said, but I will at some point. So Jeff Sessions, Jeff Sessions gave some bad answers.”
He never explained just how that was a conflict of interest, though, but he clearly wants that interview to disqualify Mueller from the job as special prosecutor.
Trump has also more or less warned Mueller to stay away from his finances under the guise of keeping the probe focused on Russian interference. Mueller blatantly ignored that by starting to dig into the finances of Trump, his family, and his associates.
The whole point of this is to find something—anything—that could allow Trump to push Rosenstein to fire Mueller from the probe. And it reeks of desperation. Trump seems to know that the probe is getting too close to the truth, and that truth could strip him of his office and possibly land him in jail.
But worse, it would sorely disgrace him. That would be the most humiliating consequence of all.
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