Although Special Counsel Robert Mueller has dropped the final report from his Russia investigation, the issue is far from over. Vanity Fair‘s Gabriel Sherman shared a selection of disturbing perspectives from Trump World insiders this week, coloring in just how on the rocks the president’s team really is. Of course, private musings aren’t entirely necessary to understand how far in legal and political jeopardy President Donald Trump really is, but what Sherman shares takes the situation to disturbing new extremes.
As an anonymous Republican described as close to the White House put it:
‘A normal person would have been indicted for this.’
Former Trump aide Sam Nunberg added:
‘The obstruction stuff is pretty damning… The report will give ammunition for Democrats to hold more hearings.’
It’s true — the Mueller report paints a complicated picture of why the president has not been indicted that most certainly does not hinge on a complete lack of wrongdoing. Rather, it lays out a number of instances in which it seems pretty clear that Trump obstructed justice and punts the issue to Congress, citing both their Constitutional duty to handle possibly impeachment-worthy matters and standing Justice Department policy against indicting a sitting president. Mueller’s team further cites a sense that explicitly asserting Trump was guilty anyway would be legally inappropriate, running afoul of standards allowing accused criminals the chance to defend themselves via criminal trial.
As the special counsel’s report puts it:
‘While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.’
In that light, Trump has been freaking out. Friday morning, he rambled on Twitter:
‘Statements are made about me by certain people in the Crazy Mueller Report, in itself written by 18 Angry Democrat Trump Haters, which are fabricated & totally untrue.’
It’s unclear what precisely set him off or if he’s simply feeling the heat from the report as a whole. The Mueller report references notes from a number of former top Trump officials, including former White House Counsel Don McGahn, former staff secretary Rob Porter, former chief of staff John Kelly, and former deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland. McGahn had some of the most biting criticism of the president, having apparently said at one point that Trump asked him to do “crazy shit” so he was ready to leave his position. That particular episode eventually cooled off — and McGahn didn’t get Mueller fired, as Trump asked — but the obstruction question raged.
The report shares a tense incident that followed McGahn speaking with Mueller’s team about the effort to get the special counsel removed. The president railed at him:
‘Why do you take notes? Lawyers don’t take notes. I never had a lawyer who took notes.’
The former White House staffer told Trump that a “real lawyer” does, in fact, take notes.
The situation gives ample support to the assertion from a former West Wing official to Sherman:
‘Trump stinks. The report gives everyone a better whiff of the odor.’
Going forward, more and more people are discussing the possibility of impeaching the president, and even if that effort doesn’t pass the Senate and thereby remove Trump from office, the Democrat-majority House could send a strong message all the same. Top Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway’s husband George called Trump a “cancer on the presidency” that must be removed.
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