Could “they” be right that President Trump and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III are not really at war but are secret collaborators who have a grand plot that will end with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in striped prison suits and Trump as the national savior?
Might that explain Trump’s shocking reversal over the weekend when he again made liars of himself, his lawyers and his press secretary by changing his story and admitting that the meeting at Trump Tower of his son, son-in-law and his top campaign officials with Russian agents in June 2016 was to get “dirt” on Clinton from the Russians to use in the campaign? The dirt — campaign plans stolen from the digital troves of the Democratic Party — was dumped on the world through Wikileaks a few days later. Trump seems to be getting in sync with Mueller, who has been collecting evidence on the famous gathering with four Russians with links to the Kremlin. Why would he be doing it if he and Mueller don’t have something clever up their sleeves?
“They” are the conspiracists on social media known as QAnon who claim to be high federal agents with the top-secret Q security clearance. They posit that all the lies and stupid snafus of the president actually are cover for the genius president’s grand plan to upend the political status quo and send the real crooks and traitors — Clinton, Barack Obama and perhaps others — to prison for life, if not to a Rosenberg fate. The theory has millions of followers on social media, who follow Trump’s seemingly brainless utterings and QAnon follow-ups for clues to the grand scheme. You noticed them in the cheering throngs at his rallies wearing Q T-shirts and waving Q signs.
You must admit that the basic facts render the Mueller investigation and Trump’s obsession with it a little suspicious. All the men who seem to be Trump’s tormentors in the Russian investigation are actually dedicated Republicans, although the president keeps screaming about the “17” Democrats who are out to get him. Mueller is a lifelong Republican. So is James Comey, the FBI director and former high Bush administration official whom Trump fired. So is Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom Trump keeps savaging in hopes he will resign. So is Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general whom Trump appointed and then castigated and who was part of Kenneth Starr’s team of Republican prosecutors who investigated Bill and Hillary Clinton for seven years. So is, or was, Andrew McCabe, briefly the acting FBI director after Comey’s firing. So is Christopher A. Wray, the former Bush official whom Trump appointed FBI director and who directs the FBI team assigned to the Mueller investigation. So is the avid politico Brett Kavanaugh, who twice worked on Starr’s team, first to try to prosecute the Clintons for the suicide of their friend Vince Foster and then President Clinton for his dalliance with Monica Lewinsky. Kavanaugh will be confirmed as a Supreme Court justice this fall in time to cast a decisive vote to protect Trump if it’s needed.
The FBI has always, at least in modern times, been sort of a Republican police force, directed by partisan Republicans. Remember that the FBI chief who directed the FBI probes of the Clintons for Kenneth Starr and other special prosecutors for eight years was Louis Freeh, the Reagan and Bush acolyte who Clinton wanted to fire but never did.
But there may be a more rational explanation than the Q conspiracy for Trump’s about-face on the Russian meeting and his need to reach an accommodation with Mueller.
Aside from the matter of colluding with Russians to interfere in an election — a criminal violation of the federal code in spite of Trump’s and his lawyers’ assertions that collusion is legal — Mueller is confronted with overwhelming circumstantial evidence from Trump’s mouth, tweets and executive actions that he tried to obstruct justice in the investigation of the Russian interference. Bill Clinton was charged with obstruction by Starr and the Republican House of Representatives for not admitting to his family and the country that he had oral sex with Monica Lewinsky and thus encouraging her to lie.
Mueller, one can surmise, dreads still another constitutional crisis like those that followed the Nixon and Clinton impeachment efforts, the latter of which proved to be enormously unpopular with the American people. There will be numerous convictions and guilty pleas by Trump campaign and perhaps family members, but Mueller needs to avoid charging the president himself with trying to stop or influence the Russian investigation. He needs to be able to conclude that there is not enough evidence that Trump purposely obstructed the probe. To do so, he needs to hear it from Trump’s own lips.
Trump courtier Rudy Giuliani sent a letter to Mueller this week begging him to agree in advance not to ask Trump those questions if Trump sits down with him. Even while trying to assert his naïeveté, Trump could get caught in provable perjury for which, like Kenneth Starr, Mueller would have to prosecute him.
That is the mating dance.