WSJ’s Curious Mueller Editorial

I want to look back at something that has been puzzling me: a Wall Street Journal editorial issued by the end of the day Wednesday arguing that Mueller should not be fired. The next day, Rupert Murdoch paid Mitch McConnell a personal visit on the Hill.

While not as shrill or fact-free as its columnist, Kim Strassel, the WSJ editorial page has been steadily critical of the Mueller investigation, dismissing any possibility it will identify “collusion” and repeating GOP claims that it as sprawled beyond Mueller’s original remit (as well as parroting GOP claims that the FBI framed the Trump campaign). A column on the Paul Manafort plea deal, for example, warned that leaks from the investigation (which have never happened) would undermine public confidence in the investigation.

Leaks or other news about his investigation will undermine public confidence in a probe that has already wandered far from its original Russia remit and has now lasted 16 months without a resolution.

So it’s not like WSJ has been friendly to the Mueller investigation.

That said, their columns on the Mueller investigation as frequently criticize Trump’s incompetence in dealing with it and DOJ. That sentiment shows up in the two most relevant recent editorial columns on the investigation. This column from late August argues that Trump’s attacks on Jeff Sessions put Republican majorities at risk in November, which would lead to impeachment.

We will point out that Mr. Trump’s attacks on his own Attorney General this week are wrong and politically counterproductive.

The President is still furious that Mr. Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe, which has since become the sprawling Robert Mueller investigation that threatens his Presidency. But railing against Mr. Sessions can’t change that, and it gives the appearance of trying to politicize the department.

[snip]

The biggest political threat to Mr. Trump is a Democratic election victory in November, which will trigger a drive for impeachment. Mr. Trump isn’t going to persuade anyone to vote for Republicans by railing against a Republican Attorney General he selected.

And this September column about the possibility of firing Rosenstein emphasizes the impact that would have on Republican majorities.

The immediate battle now is over the midterm election and whether Mr. Trump can stay in office as the impeachment assault begins from Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats. Mr. Trump can make personnel changes after the midterms if Republicans still hold the Senate and he can get someone confirmed.

Murdoch’s American flagship paper doesn’t like the Mueller investigation. But that has as much to do with the ways it leads Trump to do stupid things that imperil Republican rule as that it poses a risk for Trump personally.

With that as background, consider the column. It starts by complaining (again) about how badly Trump treated Sessions.

Mr. Sessions deserved better than the public humiliations dealt by President Trump. As a Senator from Alabama, Jeff Sessions was the first Washington figure of any stature to embrace Mr. Trump’s candidacy. Mr. Trump wants loyalty up but not down.

It then describes the appointment of Matt Whitaker without comment or judgment.

Sessions’ temporary successor will be the AG’s chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, who presumably will hold the job until a successor is nominated.

Most of the column argues for a solid Attorney General replacement. The WSJ seems to be complaining — as they did in some of their other editorials — that the White House should exercise more influence over DOJ. They do want someone respectable as Attorney General, however.

It is important that the White House get this one right.

The Attorney General shouldn’t fire Mr. Mueller, as the President essentially said himself at his Wednesday news conference. Mr. Trump needs an individual of stature and judgment who will have the trust of the department’s lawyers, who is capable of independence, but who also understands that the Justice Department is part of the executive branch and not a law unto itself.

But the WSJ, with as little comment as it makes about Whitaker, also states clearly that any new Attorney General shouldn’t fire Mueller and claims Trump himself has agreed, probably a reference to this answer from Trump at the press conference that day.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Going back to the Russia investigation and the potential investigations from the now- Democratic majority in Congress, some say that you could stop all this by declassifying —

THE PRESIDENT:  I could.  I could fire everybody right now.  But I don’t want to stop it, because politically, I don’t like stopping it.  It’s a disgrace.  It should have never been started because there was no crime.  It is — everybody has conflicts.  They all have conflicts over there that are beyond anything that anybody has ever seen in terms of conflicts — from the fact that people ask for jobs; from the fact that they have very good friends on the other side, like really good friends, like Comey — who, by the way, lied and leaked, and also leaked classified information.  Nothing happened there.  It might, perhaps.  Maybe something is happening that I don’t know about.

I stay away from it.  But do you know what I do?  I let it just go on.  They’re wasting a lot of money, but I let it go on because I don’t want to do that.

The day after the election, Trump took a rash step to end the Mueller investigation by firing Sessions and hiring Whitaker. And WSJ almost immediately responded by warning Trump not to do any further damage to the party with his impulsive efforts to undermine Mueller.

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87 replies
  1. Fran of the North says:

    What I found instructive was that even though many thought that Mueller ‘had’ to react before Whitaker could shut everything down, Mueller just kept his head down. I think we can assume that he’s doggedly following his leads, and that his contingency plans were completed long ago.

    As to the WSJ article, there may be more cracks in the GOP unified front (Party, funders, press and PR allies et al) than anyone knows. Easy to ignore the inconsistent play and personnel squabbles when your team is winning every game. Much tougher to do the same when you’ve just had your hat handed to you.

    • bobestes says:

      Who’s to say that Whitaker won’t take a look at the evidence and run as far away from the probe as possible? Depending on where Mueller is at, getting involved could mean obstruction of justice. Just because he’s a careerist doesn’t mean he wants to go to prison.

    • BobCon says:

      The potential crack in particular is with regard to Murdoch. The Journal Editorial Page does not move without being in sync with Murdoch.

      Murdoch likewise controls the direction of Fox News, and he knows that the GOP elite needs Fox News a lot more than Fox needs the GOP elite. If Lyndsey Graham or Mark Meadows or some other Trump lackey wants to turn on Fox, Murdoch knows he can withstand a civil war much better than they can.

      I don’t expect Fox News personalities to suddenly start marching with pink hats on, but this is a warning from Murdoch.

      Interestingly, another warning went out yesterday, with the Washington Post running a long piece about tensions between the news side and the opinion types. There is no way Brett Baier would have been quoted at such length without some kind of consent by senior Fox management, and it should be seen as a warning to Hannity et al that Murdoch is watching.

      • William Bennett says:

        the GOP elite needs Fox News a lot more than Fox needs the GOP elite

        It is of course totally inaccurate to refer to Fox News as the propaganda arm of the GOP. In reality, the GOP is the political arm of Fox News.

      • Anon says:

        Any politician who works with Murdoch would do well to remember Margarat Thatcher and her (paraphrased) lament “How could Rupert do this to me?”

        Murdoch of course built Maggie’s career and she cemented his empire in in taking over papers in England and then in building up his BSkyB network by approving waiver after waiver for union busting and monopoly construction. Murdoch did everything for her.

        Until he didn’t need her anymore.

        When his papers turned on her she was done in short order and he moved on to “New Labor” which continued to give him what he wanted. Any expectation that he would behave differently now that he already has his tax cuts and his deregulation and now that those have survived the mid-terms is fallacious. He will keep Trump, until he doesn’t need Trump and not one second longer.

        • BobCon says:

          Fox also dropped Glenn Beck and never looked back. They said goodbye to Megyn Kelly and none of their viewers miss her. Hannity, Carlson and Ingraham and the rest should remember that.

    • eh says:

      I know nothing of the actual tradecraft, but if I was going to invent some for a story I’d say that Mueller has canaries around that will let him know if anything is even actually moving, and in a direction he needs to think about.

  2. Anura says:

    If you aren’t going to engage in irresponsible speculation… Well, I guess that’s why you have a comments section in the first place.

    I think Republicans are worried that with the Democrats in control of the House that they will no longer be able to control the story, and Trump is only going to drag them down through 2020. So they are likely trying to figure out how they can shift the narrative on Trump slowly, without losing the base.

    • David Lewis says:

      Pat Buchanan is fond of the “tar baby” trope so I’ll go with that one.

      The GoP who are (I agree with you) trying to figure out how to shift the narrative AWAY FROM TRUMP (I’m laughing as I type) are going to find out they have Pat’s favorite trope on their sticky hands.

      Trump can’t stop being Trump. It’s not an act. It’s him.

      Pat (I’m so hoping for this) will eventually write something along the lines of “At least Nixon did what was best for the party in the end.”

    • mp says:

      House impeachment hearings are scheduled for spring 2020.  Trump will resign and Pence can run as an incumbent.  name your bet, lol

    • eh says:

      The Republican Party is done. Trump will sandbag Republicans for generations, longer than Dems were saddled with Carter.

      • Charles says:

        Jimmy Carter had the advantage of being a very decent man.

        People saw that, long after the unjust indictment of him for the inflation of the 1970s (for which Richard Nixon bears substantial blame) and the recession of the 1980s (for which Reagan deserves substantial blame) and the failure to gain the release of the hostages (which may well have been due to Reagan’s covert dealings with the Iranian mullahs) had faded away.

        Very few people know that there were two recessions around 1980, a mild one under Carter and a very damaging one triggered by the high interest rates Paul Volcker imposed after the Reagan tax giveaways that David Stockman famously called “the Christmas tree.”  Very few people know that inflation under Nixon-Ford hit levels nearly as high as under Carter.

      • Procopius says:

        Trump has an approval rating of 38% (last I saw). I think every single one of those is going to vote for him in 2020, if he runs.  I don’t think his disapproval rating of 55% (last I saw) is nearly as durable as that. I’m not persuaded the Republican Party is dead.

  3. Milton Wiltmellow says:

    In the age of mass info-media, pioneered by Murdoch, an important concept is “branding.”

    Fox News, for instance, isn’t “news” (in the old sense), it has become branded news — not just any news (you can get that on CNN), but specially delivered news designed for a certain connoisseur of political nuance — a sort of non-elite political elitist.  Politics for bitter old white men.   Or similarly, the British tabloid The Sun featured topless women for the same demographic in Britain.

    Sex was used as an important element in the content and marketing the paper from the start, which Lamb believed was the most important part of his readers’ lives.[25][30] The first topless Page 3 model appeared on 17 November 1970, 

    Consumers were no longer anonymous with branded info-news.  They became a demographic and an audience in one — a ready made pool for advertisers.  Advertisers had no need to produce (and pay for) mass appeal ads when a demographic target matches an audience.  Sort of like selling x-ray glasses to adolescent boys in comic books.

    Fox News was unique among the fashionable American info-media trend of monetizing the news because Fox branded itself.

    Trump’s “appeal” (I find nothing appealing about him) is his “de-branding” or maybe “re-branding.”  His brand of contrarian disdain for traditional norms and the establishment needs this de-branding and re-branding to succeed.  In another society he would be condemned as a counter-revolutionary; that is, his success depends upon the disillusionment of the masses.

    This scam doesn’t work if the counter-revolutionary becomes the revolution.  The Mueller probe represents the revolution.  In a strange way, undercutting the Mueller investigation undercuts the entire branding effort.  You can’t be anti-establishment if there’s no establishment to de-brand.

    Trump needs Mueller to be Trump brand. Murdoch understands this strange dynamic even if Trump doesn’t.

    That’s my take anyway.

    • Troutwaxer says:

      The other thing to consider about Fox News is that their main demographic is always dying (essentially of old age) and this demographic shift must be a major issue for them, so they have to retool every once in awhile. Couple that necessary “retooling” with the investigation of Trump and you have a major crisis for the Right/Fox. Which way they’ll break is beyond my pay grade.  :-)

  4. scribe says:

    This is not quite Barry Goldwater and Hugh Scott stopping by the Oval Office to talk with Tricky Dick about how many votes he can or can’t count on, but it is drawing a red line.

    • Anon says:

      Yes but it isn’t the Senate R’s drawing the line, it is Murdoch, and by extension their donor/masters. (See my comment above).

  5. Trip says:

    They don’t like the Mueller probe, mostly because they don’t want it to ensnare any of the old guard. It is looking like Trump may have overstayed his welcome. His crazy little base didn’t pull off the election ‘red wave’ results he promised. The old neocons are back in town, Trump hired lots of them. They got their ridiculous billionaire tax breaks and loaded the courts with corruption. Even Jeb Bush is back condemning a person that he appointed in FLA. This is why you should never forgot how horrible the Bushes were and still are. Hopefully people like Nicole Wallace et al stop waxing nostalgic about Dubya and his administration.

    I have to wonder how soon until they take him down.

  6. Rugger9 says:

    Perhaps apocryphally, it seems our usual RWNM suspects are also going silent, i.e. Wikileaks, Drudge, etc. as if something really big is going to hit.  Jerome Corsi thinks he’ll be indicted on a perjury trap rap, even though it’s just “perjury” and JC isn’t a big enough fish to warrant such concern.  Be serious, Jerome, but perhaps you can explain why your hero dodged honoring the Belleau Wood dead.

    Has Kaiser Quisling outlived his usefulness to McTurtle and LyinRyan since nothing else will get passed?  Is it time for Mike Pence to move in to 1600 Pennsylvania to get incumbency for 2020?  I’m pretty sure he has but how do they plan to remove KQ without any GOP fingerprints (i.e. the 25th Amendment solution)?  Maybe the plan now is to get Mueller to hammer one of the palace spawn and that will give the 25th Amendment plan the pretext to move forward.  I would guess something breaks before Thanksgiving.

    • Nobody says:

      The man on the right appears to be Robert Thompson, CEO of News Corp. So the group pictured here consists of the Executive Chairman, Co-Chairman, and Chief Executive of News Corporation.

      • BobCon says:

        Thanks, that checks out. Looks like he’s making sure to keep Lachlan on a short leash.

        This Gabriel Sherman article has a lot of detail about him.

        http://nymag.com/news/media/64305/index1.html

        Like Murdoch, he may be a miserable conservative, but he’s no dummy about the business. From that article:

                 Robert Thomson, whom Murdoch installed to run the Journal in May 2008, shares the belief that American journalism in general, and the New York Times in particular, is hidebound and decadent. “There are two personnel moves at the New York Times that I think make them vulnerable,” Thomson tells me. “One is Mr. Sulzberger remains in place. And the second is that Howell Raines lost his job. Because whatever Howell Raines’s sins were, he was clearly a reformer. And he was prepared to confront the journalistic elite at the paper and bring the New York Times into the modern ages. That process really stopped when Howell left.”

  7. wiltmellow says:

    Murdoch and WSJ didn’t become Democrats overnight.

    Trump wants to protect himself.

    Republicans want votes. Mueller indictments serve that purpose — especially when Jr. gets indicted.

  8. Vern says:

    @BobCon: Really good question. Might reveal more about the purpose of the meeting.

    Note for the mods: reply not working after working consistently for the last while. What changed?

  9. Avattoir says:

    So:

    1. Incoming HJC chair Nadler tells reporters Whitaker will be the first witness called by HJC under his gavel.

    2. House Dems write DoJ asking if they’ve met with Whitaker or plan to over conflicts and recusal ethics standards.

    3. Whitaker confirms his intent to meet with ethics DoJos on conflicts & recusal.

    My scenario – the Whitaker thing being about 1. Toad gets to humiliate Sessions, 2. Leo gets an improved shot at guiding the scammy scum thru the Senate for a federal court lifer gig, & 3. Toad’s nom for AG who, if nothing else can be said of her (Bondi?) looks like Learned Hand next to Whitaker – looking up.

    – from Monty Python & The Holy Grail, “Bring out your dead!” scene:

    Man spots King Arthur nutting thru a village: ‘Who’s that then?’

    Dead collector:  ‘Dunno – must be a king!’.

    ‘Why?’

    ‘Hasn’t got shit all over him.’

  10. Thomas Paine says:

    I think the GOP is concerned that the Democrats will NOT impeach Trump but just keep laying the case out that he’s a traitor and a crook who has abused the office, eloquently and comprehensively in the public square.  Nadler, Schiff, Swallwell and Lieu are all very gifted prosecutors and orators who can make each part of the case headline news for months on end.

    There are two reasons for this.  1) There are only two years left in Trump’s term – by the time you investigate, vote to Impeach in the House and then go to trial in the Senate, the 2020 election will be on top of everyone.  2) If you make the case the Trump is a traitor and a crook, but leave Trump in office, then he will likely not be successfully challenged by another GOP presidential candidate in 2020 and the GOP will be stuck running a very dead lame duck at the top of the ticket.  THIS is the best possible outcome for the Democratic Party and the country, because the 2018 “Blue Wave” will turn into the 2020 “Blue Tsunami” and sweep out Trump AND the GOP Senate, potentially consigning the GOP to the same place the Whigs occupy in American history.  THIS would be a terrific outcome for the United States.

    • emptywheel says:

      I could be persuaded by that argument. But it depends on whether Congress starts checking Trump’s power and whether the parts of the government that need to function keep it together at least marginally.

      • BobCon says:

        I think the benefits to the country are debatable, but I think the timing constraints he describes are real. Investigative committees need to staff up and won’t be able to hit the ground running on the bigger, better hidden issues. Trump and his people will be doing everything possible to play rope a dope on testifying, and I suspect they’ll be generating a lot of phony issues in the hopes of distracting the Democrats and especially the media.

        That’s not to say there aren’t some smoking guns in tax records or something else which might blow up sooner, but realistically I think there’s going to be an initial flurry of news as the Democrats pick low hanging fruit, but it will be late summer before bigger issues start getting uncovered, and the dynamics of the presidential campaign will complicate everything.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Willie Brown of SF knows a thing or two about politics, having been elected Speaker of the CA Assembly when the GOP had the majority among other adept activities.  As far as we are concerned, he’s the true “Slick Willie” and Bill Clinton is “Silly Billy”.  Willie Brown’s take matches Thomas Paine’s (and I agree) since just like Silly Billy’s impeachment there is no way the party in power will convict a POTUS from their own side.  For Silly Billy, there was no there, there; for Kaiser Quisling it will be because the GOP is a pack of accessories if not outright accomplices and need to cover their own arses.  Secondly, even though Pence is an accomplice in his own right, the Ds want a referendum on Trump on 2020, not on Pence (who if he is elevated will be followed by the inevitable calls for pulling back because Trump’s fall was enough to make the point) since that will be easier to do.

      I would predict that palace shift in power will come late next year to minimize the time available for the Ds to investigate Pence’s activities with respect to the Russians, and his tiebreaking votes in the Senate to saddle us with Betsy Devos and to prevent veterans from being ripped off by forced arbitration agreements with big banks, bypassing SCRA (HJ Resolution 111), firing Comey as well among many other sins.  Pence will be presented as a clean-cut God-fearing straight-shooter. Of course, that would require ignoring his misgoverning of Indiana so badly that he didn’t even try to run again because he was so unpopular in that dark-red state.

      Pence at that point could lead the so-called “anti-Trump” revolt in this scenario, but like Flake and Sasse, the GOP still voted for him in lockstep and his policies until KQ no longer was useful.  The big GOP question for me appears to be timing, in that if KQ melts down too soon (s he is showing signs of doing) he will have to be turfed out too soon for the GOP’s purposes and the Ds will have more time to examine Pence before 2020.  That’s something the GOP wants to avoid to have remotely realistic dreams of keeping the WH.

      No, HRC is not running as she said again, but Cillizza apparently has a Miata payment to make (or whatever his midlife crisis car is) and floated the speculation again.

      • Thomas Paine says:

        I think a late “Palace Coup” by Pence and the pre-Trump GOP caucus could be successful with almost any OTHER President – even Nixon took the advice of Goldwater and Co. in the Watergate debacle.  However this is Trump – he will not leave of his own volition under any circumstances for three reasons: 1) his potential civil and criminal liabilities once he leaves office, (meaning he wants to postpone that glorious day as long as possible to outlive the Statutes of Limitations), 2) his very loyal base of alt-right, “nationalists” who will punish anyone who sacks their hero, and 3) his rampant narcissism.  That combination will make it very hard to remove him as the King of the GOP as long as he wants to be there.

        A 2020 GOP primary with a cadre of Never-Trumpers like Flake or Kasich or even a spurning loyalist like Pence would be entertaining but probably unsuccessful.  I really think they are stuck with him.  Even if Pence could pull it off, he is a lousy candidate in his own right.  He couldn’t even win a Gubernatorial re-election in Indiana.

        They GOP should have never let Trump in the barn to begin with, but vote-winning power is a hard thing to resist, even if it kills your party in the end.  They may need some Hamiltonian-thinking  “Super-Delegates” at their next Convention to prevent it from happening again.

    • Ed Walker says:

      That’s what I think, and I think it’s a much better idea than impeachment. Let the Repubs own that jerk and his appalling behavior, and poison Pence and every other potential nominee forever. Use investigations to tie anchors around their turtle necks.

  11. PC says:

    Does anyone else suspect that when it comes down to it, Mueller’s operation won’t really put the screws to anyone?

    It is a big cloud looming over the Trump presidency, but a clouds aren’t jail cells. I can imagine a scenario in which Mueller lets central conspirators just skate.

    • viget says:

      Nah… what will happen, and is already being telegraphed, is that Cohen’s testimony is going to nail the Idiot to the wall on illegal campaign contributions vis a vis Stormy Daniels et al.  Then if Trump refuses to resign, you will have your McTurtle/Graham  Goldwater/Scott moment.  Mueller will provide an assist by dangling a Uday indictment over his head if he doesn’t go.

      Whatever does Trump in will have to be either sex related or tax related, or possibly both.

      Mueller will finish up with Flynn and Manafort, and quietly write his report, and we’ll never get the full story  :(

      That is, until Marcy writes it.

      • Avattoir says:

        Again (and again, and again): just forget that nonsense about some Mueller “report”.

        The regime under which DAG Rosenstein named Mueller as S.C. is materially different from the appointments of Cox, Jaworski, Walsh, Fiske or Starr. Mueller is acting under a regime closest to (not exactly the same as) that which pertained to Fitzpatrick and the CIA leak (Valerie Plame Wilson).

        Did you ever see any report from Fitzpatrick? What we got was the trial of Scooter Libby, Fitzpatrick’s post-verdict press conference, and Fitzpatrick’s testimony to Congress. But no report.

        Here’s the applicable part of the regulations (I’ve mostly abbreviated the office designations.):

        § 600.8 

        Notification and reports by the SC

        (a)Budget.

        (1) A Special Counsel shall be provided all appropriate resources by the DoJ. Within the first 60 days of his or her appointment, the SC shall develop a proposed budget for the current fiscal year with the assistance of the Justice Management Division for the AG’s review and approval. Based on the proposal, the AG shall establish a budget for the operations of the SC. The budget shall include a request for assignment of personnel, with a description of the qualifications needed.

        (2) Thereafter, 90 days before the beginning of each fiscal year, the SC shall report to the AG the status of the investigation, and provide a budget request for the following year. The AG shall determine whether the investigation should continue and, if so, establish the budget for the next year.

        (b)Notification of significant events. 

        The SC shall notify the AG of events in the course of his or her investigation in conformity with the Departmental guidelines with respect to Urgent Reports.

        (c)Closing documentation. 

        At the conclusion of the SC’s work, he or she shall provide the AG with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the SC.

        So, 4 categories of things that might, at a stretch, be characterized as some kind of ‘report’:

        – for starting budget purposes, internally to the AG

        – for subsequent budget purposes, internally to the AG with proposals, if any, of where to go next

        – for ‘notification’ purposes, so the AG is made aware of ‘urgent’ matters, but again: for internal purposes

        – a “report” at the end, addressed to the AG, EXPLAINING why the SC indicted those that were indicted & why the SC chose not to indict those that might have been indicted but were not

        – EACH ONE addressed to the AG- not Congress, not the public, and nothing here or anywhere else in the broader regulation that contemplates release to Congress or the public.

        None of those falls neatly within Jaworski’s Road Map – which the public finally got to see a not exactly timely 45 years plus later, or Starr’s ridiculous book-length official defamation. Each one contemplates ‘reporting’ to the AG – again: not to Congress, not to the public.

    • Gnome de Plume says:

      In dark moments I have thought about Mueller not producing anything.  I would much rather go with @viget’s scenario.  I’ve gamed out a very similar plot.

      • Avattoir says:

        Lots more people like reading fiction than those who prefer reading non-fiction. I myself favor reading an Iain Banks space opera over most non-fiction tomes (tho that’s not so in the case of 2 slim volumes that still hold up very well, each of which I’ve read a number of times thru: Steven Weinberg’s The First 3 Minutes, and Marcy Wheeler’s Anatomy of Deceit.).

    • Procopius says:

      Yeah, me. I had hopes (slim, but still hopes) that Mueller was going to make public some real evidence to support the Russiagate Thing. After seeing his two indictments of Russians I’m not so hopeful any more. What has been happening (from the little I can track down) indicates his staff were completely unprepared to have anyone from the first indictment actually show up for trial, so they didn’t do the work of actually preparing to go to trial. When Concord Consulting actually sent lawyers to the arraignment and they had to start showing evidence they seem to have panicked. The last I saw they were begging the judge not to make them show their evidence in discovery, and the judge was asking, “Who was supposed to be reading these ads, anyway?” [The ads are all in Russian]. I’m starting to think now (no, I don’t have any evidence) that they decided they needed to show some progress and so indicted the legendary ham sandwich. That’s actually one reason why I keep checking back here. I don’t know where else I can get some idea of what’s going on.

      • Avattoir says:

        Whatever else you may think we agree on, we certainly do not agree on what you’ve just posted here.

        Indeed, I take exception to your thinking that anything I’ve posted here and elsewhere, on this website or any other, pressing that the STARTING point for understanding Mueller’s mandate at SC, certainly his own view of that mandate, is to start with the DoJ regulatory provisions under which his appointment was made.

        Somehow you appear inclined to rework that notion into some absurdist depiction of rigid or regimented incompetence on the part of the OSC team, a depiction not only not at all justified by its work output over the past 17 plus months but by its actually demonstrated competence even under the conditions imposed and enforced by a judge as difficult, not to say obstructionist (albeit also not just a little buffoonish in his inefficacy) as he who presided over the trial of Manafort in EDVA.

        Moreover, IMO you’re asking a lot more of the Concord Management indictment experience than is remotely justified. Also, this isn’t remotely the first time or indeed website where I’ve seen the physics of your incline towards such tilts as this.

  12. Zinsky says:

    Agreed. Impeachment is a wet dream. Although I would prefer that Trump be debrided with a cat-o-nine tails on public TV, the best thing we can do is keep embarrassing and humiliating President Clown Hair for the next two years and let him run his stupid pie hole and we will beat the living snot out of the degenerate in the 2020 election!

  13. JD12 says:

    I think most GOP leaders and donors are self-aware enough to see that Trump is no longer an asset, just a liability. I can think of a few reasons they might want to get rid of him.

    They wanted him to sell the economy for the midterms, but instead he jumped the shark with his immigration antics. If this were a presidential election year, he probably would’ve cost them the White House. Trump doesn’t know how to change his tune, he just sings louder, and that’s not what they want in 2020. Donors favor immigration and the cheap labor that comes with it.

    The trade war is going to get expensive.

    McConnell and Ryan were able to advance their unpopular agenda while Trump took the brunt of the criticism, but without all 3 branches they can’t do that anymore.

    With legitimate congressional oversight, Dems will almost certainly uncover a major scandal (other than Russia) that either happened already or will happen before 2020. Trump is too ignorant and arrogant to go scandal-free for 4 years.

    They don’t need to worry about the base because they control the base—aside from the full-blown cult members. For the last few years Fox and WSJ have been portraying Trump in a way that conservatives can see what they want to see in him. He loves his country; he’s a Christian; he cares about workers. People who really are patriotic, religious, and blue-collar can project those qualities on him.

    If they show Trump as he is—a 5x draft dodger; serial adulterer who doesn’t go to church; tax cheat and stiffer of small businesses—they will turn on him eventually. Hannity is high on his own supply, so he may not be able, but the rest of them could do it.

    • BobCon says:

      The trouble I have with a GOP revolt is that there is no way Trump goes quietly, and I think they know it. He will happily throw his weight against GOP rebels and play a spoiler role even if he only commands a minority of the party, and I suspect even in extreme disgrace he would own 20-30% of the rank and file.

      Even after he’s out of office, I think a good number of GOP politicians will go to kiss his ring, even in the unlikely event he’s wearing an orange jumpsuit.

  14. Eureka says:

    Possibly related, fresh off the tweeter box (replies mounting):

     “[email protected] What do you make of @FoxNews not having tweeted in days, @DRUDGE deleting all tweets and @wikileaks not having tweeting in several days?”
    https://twitter.com/epcicchini/status/1062207799646715904

    Yashar Ali 🐘 on Twitter: “1. Fox News is boycotting Twitter due to their lax enforcement on doxxing etc. 2. Drudge always deletes his tweets 3. Don’t know re Wikileaks!…”
    https://twitter.com/yashar/status/1062214074262581248

    Below from replies to @yashar:

     “National Enquirer last post was Nov 9… ”

     “One more: @DrJillStein hasn’t tweeted since Nov 9.… ”

    “Jared Kushner has reportedly deleted all tweets.… “

    • Eureka says:

      The public square ain’t having @yashar’s credulous attribution of Fox’s ~’allegedly silent and unannounced to own the libs boycott.’  Others note other behavior of the drudge accounts that are not characteristic.  Still others add folks like Rudy and Kim Dotcom to the silent post-9th list.  (Again, this is in reply to the @yashar tweet above.)

      I note Stein had been very twitty about Florida events, now ongoing sans her voice.

      And there’s this:

      “Wikis last tweet is some old crap about Mueller. Hannity seems to be freaking out as well, as he’s back to tweeting about Hillary and black leaders.…”
      https://twitter.com/Roxxstir/status/1062215871853031425

      So Hannity is going the chatty Corsi-type route, apparently.  Hannity on deep structure, Corsi on the superficial (it’s usually the other way around).

    • Trip says:

      Stein, as leader of the party of the planet, had nothing to say about the CA fires. NADA. Funny that.

      Tucker Carlson laughed about actual REAL pipe bombs. Then he made up a broken door story at his home, because serious victim.

      I hope M Cohen clues everyone in on his ‘business’ work for Hannity.

  15. Eureka says:

    Is there something _opposite_ to an asterisk that we can put in the history books for this midterm turnout-  it was raining for most of the northeast quadrant of the country, at least.

    I haven’t seen this ‘104 years’ number validated anywhere else, so hadn’t posted it yesterday.  However, today I would like to use it to give the Murdoch clan a chef’s kiss.

    Per an HRC-endorsing Never Trumper, with an article link to his site at second tweet:

    Evan Siegfried: “The turnout for the 2018 midterm election now exceeds 49%, 115 million voters, which makes it the highest turnout rate for a midterm in 104 years”
    https://twitter.com/evansiegfried/status/1061639027831521280

    Evan Siegfried: “Also, I put a few more midterm numbers down here. Including the 56% increase in young voter turnout and three major demographics shifts of note…”
    https://twitter.com/evansiegfried/status/1061718890437316608

  16. Trip says:

    Trump has been stewing about Macron’s speech (and trying to divert attention). So he’s acting like Mr Tough Guy, telling (tweeting) Macron to pay more for NATO or else be invaded by Germany. Meanwhile Macron knows, (along with the rest of the planet), that all it takes is a small spray bottle, one spritz of water and Trump is utterly incapacitated, and holed up in his Hannity safe space. Such a remarkable gladiator!

    • Trip says:

      I love it when Trump says something stupid and then invariably some talking head goes on TV as the Trump Interpreter/Whisperer, who explains how Trump is right, but by saying something completely different than what Trump did, in justifying this argument. (And the argument is never really challenged, even when wrong).

    • Trip says:

      [email protected]

      My goodness the French are trolling Trump in every possible way.

      French Embassy U.S.‏Verified account @franceintheus

      Yesterday we participated in a ceremony at @ArlingtonNatl to honor the sacrifices of soldiers during #WWI by laying a wreath on the tomb of the #UnknownSoldier. #VeteransDay
      https://twitter.com/franceintheus/status/1062066314448117760

      I’ll just add HAHAHAHA!
      Raining Revolution~Arrested Development
      (cutandpaste)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YWTBG6gLb4

    • Eureka says:

      Trip, your comments are reminding me of the joy of reading Trump shade en Francais.  There was that “Unis” tweet by Macron, with a pix of Macron & Merkel… the comments are too far gone now, but there was a convo in French along those lines ~ about how a spritz of water should take care of Trump (“Oof!”).

    • Anura says:

      The rumor mill failed to deliver the indictments they promised on Friday. I think they’ve lost their credibility.

      • Trip says:

        “As soon as today” is the “Up to 50% online” news weasel. It doesn’t guarantee today anymore than you’ll find 50% off the one damn thing you might need. :)

      • Allison Holland says:

        the news is not a rumour mill. and a promise is not something one asks of the news.  i think you might be angry with geraldo for something that happened awhile ago.  you need to let that gol

    • Rugger9 says:

      A key indicator of something being up, but Kaiser Quisling’s gone quiet too.  Did Kelly take away his toys?

      Isn’t too cold and rainy for golf today?

      • Anura says:

        Trump isn’t quiet; he just tweeted about how terrible the weather was in France, and was ranting about Macron this morning.

  17. Rusharuse says:

    Cheers –
    Proprietor of Trump Winery demands Tariff increase on French wine.
    “On Trade, France makes excellent wine, but so does the U.S. The problem is that France makes it very hard for the U.S. to sell its wines into France, and charges big Tariffs, whereas the U.S. makes it easy for French wines, and charges very small Tariffs. Not fair, must change!”

    #MTRA (Make Trump Rich Again)
    https://www.trumpwinery.com

  18. Greenhouse says:

    @viget

    says:
    November 12, 2018 at 9:49 pm

    For the love of God, what is Uday? Or better yet, what does Uday Hussein, or any other Uday have to do with this?

  19. Greenhouse says:

    @Trip

    says:
    November 13, 2018 at 7:23 am

    Ohhhhh, what a world, what a world. Who would have thought that some little frenchy like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness.

    • Trip says:

      (minus the love part, of course)
      Edith Piaf – Non, je ne regrette rien
      (cutandpaste)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFtGfyruroU

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Yea, the famous sewers of Paris will be full of it, if any of it ever lands in France.  That’s unlikely, in that its label is unlikely to describe what’s really in it.

  20. Tom says:

    Sorry for going off topic, but I’ve been thinking ahead to Christmas and how the holiday season may play out on the southern border. According to an October 30th story in the WSJ, the deployment of the 10-15,000 troops that President Trump ordered to assist with border security is expected to end in mid-December. This date would seem to be based on (a) an expectation that the migrant caravans will have been deterred or otherwise dealt with by then; and (b) a desire to have the troops home for Christmas. But if things don’t work out as planned and the troops are still stationed on the border over Christmas, I would expect there to be 10-15,000 spouses and other military family members who are going to be mightily pissed off with the President for making them spend the holidays away from their loved ones in uniform for no good reason, seeing as the threat from the migrant caravans has been assessed as being minimal to nil.

    Also, I can’t help but think that Trump will be faced with another public relations fiasco once the migrant caravans finally arrive–like so many struggling Cratchit families with their raggedy Tiny Tims–especially in light of his harsh rhetoric against immigrants in recent months and the measures he is taking to make it more difficult for these people to claim asylum. The fact that Trump so wallows in his wealth will make it all the easier for him to step into the role of Scrooge. I fully expect him to be tweeting: “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?” when questioned about his immigration policy.

  21. orionATL says:

    murdoch does not understand trump politics, even though he’s good pals with trump.

    the wsj editorial page likewise does not understand trump politics – the people who come out to his rallies, who vote for trump on loyalty alone or god’s will.

    murdoch and wsj propagandists are the swells who want a bush, cruz, or a pence – a guy who wears a suit and tie, cares aboit how government works, goes piously to church on some sundays, talks about patriotism, duty and honor, has some experience in politics and has the gift of appearing sensible to ordinary people.

    this is not donald j. trump. trump does not know beans about politics, nor care – and neither do the fore of his supporters.  trump does not care if government works or not – and neither do the core of his supporters. trump thinks what he thinks is good for the nation is good for the nation – and so do those who love him and heap loyalty on him. trump has no problem making destructive decisions as with trade, immigration, or the effort to protect himself from his own lawbreaking – and neither do those who vote for him and blindly follow his advice on whom to vote for.

    trump politics is the politics of the id and ignorance, the politics of adulation and hero worship, the politics of nihilism and “tear it down” at will, the politics of blatant dishonesty in service to the manipulation of fools, the politics of no future consequences. the politics of the lowest level of political leadership (trump, pompeo, bolton, sanders, giuliani, kobach, kavanaugh, et al.) leading the lowest level of the american nation’s citizenry.

    • Thomas Paine says:

      In other words, in embracing Trump, the GOP is like Dr. Frankenstein – they created a monster of uncontrollable ID that now they can’t possibly control.  Now that Trump is a politician and not just a reality TV persona, he is in control of nearly all the GOP levers of power – including the hard core base of alt-right “nationalists” and evangelicals, so devilishly cultivated with Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” and perfected by Dick Armey and the Koch brothers with the “Tea Party”, (the Sons of Liberty are spinning in their blessed graves on that one.)  The Koch’s , the Murdoch’s and the McConnell’s of the world are stuck with him.  They do not have the power to stop Trump without burying him and burning down the whole Castle.  Breaks my heart.

      Reminds me of Lenin’s embrace of Stalin.  It will probably end for the GOP the same way it ended for Lenin.  Now whether our country survives as a democracy is entirely up to us and the Democrats.  The Midterm results give me as much hope as they are likely giving Trump heartburn.

      • orionATL says:

        this seems like a reasonable, if sad, summary.

        the danger here, other than trump at any moment :), is the lengths the republican party will be willing to go to to hide or reclaim thru deceit their severely damaged reputation.

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