News & Politics

Why Trump's Allies' Efforts to Smear the Mueller Investigation Simply Won't Work

Our national crisis is entering a decisive phase.

Photo Credit: DonkeyHotey (adapted from Gage Skidmore) /Flickr

President Donald Trump was so angry that FBI Director James Comey refused to drop the investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn — and publicly declare that the president himself wasn’t under investigation — that he put himself in the crosshairs of a criminal case. On Wednesday night the Washington Post reported that special counsel Robert Mueller is now investigating the president for possible obstruction of justice. Trump can complain forever about this being a witch hunt, but he brought this new problem entirely on himself. According to Politico, he’s obsessed:

Trump, for months, has bristled almost daily at the ongoing probes. He has sometimes, without prompting, injected “I’m not under investigation” into conversations with associates and allies. He has watched hours of TV coverage every day — sometimes even storing morning news shows on his TiVo to watch in the evening — and complained nonstop.

This is not a mentally healthy person. And just as he decided that Comey was a bad man, he has now decided that Mueller is as well. This came on Thursday morning:

Immediately after the news broke that Mueller was planning to interview intelligence officials to determine if Trump had asked them to intervene, thus confirming an obstruction investigation, the White House had disseminated a hastily written, embarrassing list of talking points that was promptly leaked to the press. Trump in his own inimitable way echoed it with his plaintive early morning whine.

As Salon’s Matthew Rozsa pointed out, Trump’s most ardent supporters followed the talking points as well, starting with Sean Hannity on his Fox News show Wednesday night, who called for both Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (who appointed Mueller) to resign immediately. Andrew McCarthy of National Review said the special counsel was unnecessary, as did bomb-throwing author Ann Coulter.

None of the defenders have been more obnoxiously combative than former House Speaker and Trump surrogate Newt Gingrich. He has been vociferous in his condemnation of Mueller in recent days, despite a glowing endorsement just three weeks ago:

By last weekend Gingrich had changed his tune, telling a radio show host that Congress should abolish Mueller’s office because James Comey “makes so clear that it’s the poison fruit of a deliberate manipulation by the FBI director leaking to The New York Times, deliberately set up this particular situation. It’s very sick.” Talk show host Laura Ingraham agreed.

By Thursday, Gingrich had gone full Breitbart and was bleating incoherently about a “deep state” conspiracy:

Gingrich is selling a book called “Understanding Trump,” so that explains a lot of this. And he’s always been hyperbolic and overwrought. But he’s also always been a hardcore national security hawk, so his sudden concern for the encroachments of the surveillance state is pretty rich. Donald Trump is the first and only American citizen he’s ever defended against the “deep state.”

Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

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