Robb: It's a witch hunt for Trump, but he's acting like a witch
Robert Robb: Trump is mostly right about the Russian investigation, but he has made matters worse.
Donald Trump is right. There is a witch hunt going on in Washington, D.C.
Democrats, FBI and CIA leakers, some elements of the media, and even some Republicans are trying to take Trump down.
On the other hand, Trump keeps acting like a witch, which isn’t a very bright thing to be doing in the midst of a witch hunt.
There's no evidence Trump helped hack
Maintaining precision in this environment is difficult and arguably a waste of time. Keeping perspective, however, requires treating discretely matters now being conflated in the political miasma.
American intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia tried to influence the outcome of the presidential election by hacking into and leaking emails from the computer of John Podesta, who was chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
So, the first question is whether Trump or his campaign was in some way complicit in this. This has supposedly been under investigation for some time. Yet, despite the torrent of leaks about related matters, there has so far been no evidence made public that Trump or his campaign was in any way involved in the hacking or leaking of the emails.
Somehow, this has morphed into the question of whether there were “ties” between Trump or those involved in his campaign with the Russian government. The FBI was reportedly also investigating that and it is explicitly part of the charge given to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
'Ties' with Russia don't break the law
It is unclear why this should be part of either a counterintelligence or a criminal investigation. Interacting with Russian officials doesn’t violate American law. Nor does having business dealings with Russian entities, including those with close ties to the government.
There are certain domestic reporting requirements for some interactions with foreign entities. But those are jaywalking offenses.
Why should interactions between Trump and members of his campaign that don’t involve collusion to subvert the election be the subject of a massive federal investigation?
Democrats may want to make a political point about Trump being too cozy with the Russians, although his actions in office make that a tough argument to sustain. Regardless, the FBI shouldn’t be conducting their opposition research.
Trump tries to burn himself in response
Trump’s instincts that this is mostly an effort to discredit the legitimacy of his election and undermine his presidency are sound. So, apparently, Trump decided to provide his enemies something more substantive to try to burn him over.
I believe that James Comey’s memo about his conversation with Trump regarding the Michael Flynn investigation accurately memorializes it and disbelieve Trump’s denial. There’s no basis for that other than the perception that Comey is generally an honest person and Trump says whatever serves his interest at the time.
And, while I believe Comey deserved to be fired for unnecessarily becoming such a big figure in the presidential election, the timing and Trump’s explanations raise questions about Trump’s motivation.
Trump talking to Comey about the Flynn investigation was wholly inappropriate and stupid. But expressing a “hope” about an outcome isn’t the same thing as ordering the outcome.
Comey clearly didn’t think Trump’s actions were more than just inappropriate, or he would have done more than merely memorialize them. Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who presumably knew about the conversation and the memo, told Congress there has been no interference with the investigation from the White House.
A special prosecutor could help Trump
Trump’s actions do suggest a desire to curtail an investigation into matters Russian that he believed, rightly, was unjustifiably expanding. Instead, he got a special prosecutor whose writ includes obstruction of justice. Clumsy and inappropriate would seem more apposite charges.
A special prosecutor has some benefit for Trump. It provides House Republicans an easy dismissal of Democratic hyperventilating over impeachment: Wait for the outcome of the Mueller investigation.
Some breathing space would be beneficial. All of Trump’s flaws now on display were fully in evidence when the American people elected him president.
They elected him anyway, in part on the grounds that they wanted someone other than a politician running things for a change.
He’s been in office just five months. That’s a bit quick for the Washington political class to be trying to reverse that judgment.
Reach Robb at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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