Politics

Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Trump in Russia Probe Quicksand

President Donald Trump is sick and tired of the Russia probe, and is again lashing out at the perceived bias against him.  He’s currently weathering continued pressure from a potential tell-all stemming from an alleged extramarital affair with Stormy Daniels, an adult movie actress.  It’s been argued that with any other president, the Stormy Daniels allegations would dominate the news and perhaps lead to impeachment, especially with a Republican led congress.  President Trump is now using the firing of Deputy Director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, as a reason why the Mueller investigation is a “witch hunt” even though the two incidents are not related.  Perhaps overcome by frustration and having Mueller subpoena the Trump Organization, Trump has set his sights on special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who is currently leading the Russia investigation.  Mueller, the former FBI director who preceded James Comey and who is also a registered Republican, is considered an expert investigator with high integrity.

Mueller

Trump wants Mueller gone, but fellow Republican Lindsey Graham, U.S. Senator from South Carolina, has warned strongly against firing the investigator.  If Trump attempts to sink the investigation into his campaign by firing Mueller, it would be the “beginning of the end” of his presidency, asserts Graham, who was a 2016 rival for the GOP nomination.  While most other Republicans have toed the party line and criticized the Russia probe as a “nothing burger” and have said little or nothing about Stormy Daniels’ allegations, there are likely plenty of conservative Senators who are hoping for blood in the water.  If President Trump appears to be trying to stop the Russia probe out of fear or frustration, it will look suspicious and signal to voters that the President has something to hide.

Firing Mueller would subject Trump to even more vitriol from the left than he currently receives, and would force Republican allies to take a moral side and comment on the subject.  Any Republican who supports Trump’s firing of Mueller would be attacked by Democrats as partnering with a justice-trampling totalitarian, and any Republican who refuses to associate with Trump would be attacked by Trump’s populist base as weak and disloyal.  The entire GOP lineup would be thrust into political crosshairs, forced to take a side in a no-win situation.  Fed up with Trump’s penchant for forcing his fellow Republicans to run the gauntlet on controversial issues, other prominent GOP leaders may begin plotting 2020 primary challenges.

If Trump fires Mueller, look for several of the President’s 2016 primary campaign rivals to begin branding themselves as “saviors” of the Republican Party.

Fighting back against the Russia probe and the Stormy Daniels allegations will bring intra-party heat onto the President, so a better option would be to let it run its course.  When it comes to Stormy Daniels, Trump has already made things worse by fighting back against her speaking out on 60 Minutes and is suing her for $20 million, brining greater attention to what she has to say.

Donald Trump is a brash, confrontational fighter.  While this has won accolades from his base, it is turning off many of the moderates and independents who casted ballots for him in 2016 because they couldn’t stomach Hillary Clinton.  Trump’s anger and penchant for controversial firings look unpresidential, and Americans want a chief executive who acts like a President.

The truth about Trump’s presidential campaign and any connections with Russia will come out eventually.  In our technological tell-all age, it is inevitable.  Trying to suppress the probe by firing special prosecutor Mueller will only delay, but not stop, the truth going public.  If Trump lets it be and focuses on running the country, he may survive longer in this political quicksand than if he thrashes.  Acting calm and presidential will give Trump more likelihood of a successful “mea culpa” plea, or an acknowledgement of one’s fault or error, in the eventuality that he does appear guilty of collusion or obstruction of justice.  He can beg for forgiveness, and perhaps be given it.

However, if Trump yells and taunts and fires people, he will receive zero sympathy if the truth reveals that he knew about his campaign colluding with Moscow or that he attempted to obstruct justice for himself or someone is his administration.  He will likely be impeached, convicted by a two-thirds Senate majority.  For the sake of those who support the president, the president should listen to his advisors and not make things worse.

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