The announcement by Rod Rosenstein that he has appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel to take over the Russia investigation is encouraging, and for two reasons: First, it’s a ray of hope for millions of Americans who were rightly concerned that the wheels were coming off this democracy. Two, it’s a thorough rebuke to this president who thought he was above the law but was rudely reminded of just how resilient the system truly is.
Whatever else you may think of the Mueller appointment, there are two things to remember: One, he is meticulously thorough as an investigator. Everyone who knows him has vouched for his character and professionalism. Two, he won’t be bullied. [He once threatened to resign while head of the FBI over the NSA’s eavesdropping program.] In other words, whatever is out there, Mueller will find it. Oh, and I should also point out that his close ties with James Comey don’t exactly hurt matters.
But while Democrats are publicly lauding this move and progressives are absolutely giddy at the prospects of Donald Trump being led out in chains, I would hold off on the celebration. For one thing, we are still in the early stages of this investigation. It took almost two years of painstaking investigations by Congressional committees and a litany of courageous journalists who stuck out their necks in pursuit of the truth to bring down Nixon. From what we know of this investigation, there are many more layers and subplots. It could well take years before we know the full scope of what happened.
Granted, for all the parallels between this White House and the Nixon White House, there is one important difference: Nixon, despite his obsession for power, was very much an establishment Republican who, from all accounts, was an otherwise accomplished president. He did after all open the door to relations with Communist China, establish the EPA and took the U.S. off the gold standard. And his administration was for the most part functional.
Trump is the polar opposite. Apart from appointing a conservative to the Supreme Court he has virtually no accomplishments to show for his three and a half months in office. And his administration is in constant turmoil and chaos. Nixon chose his words carefully, Trump tweets the first thing that pops into his head. He has all the impulse control of a four-year old in front of a batch of cookies.
Still, as I write this, two things are certain: One, the White House did not want this, and that is a good sign. It means that they’re very concerned about where this investigation could lead. But two, now that this investigation is in the hands of a competent and independent prosecutor, Republicans will finally be able to concentrate on their agenda: killing Obamacare, slashing every regulation on the books and giving YUGE tax breaks to billionaires and millionaires. Meaning Democrats are now going to have to focus their attention squarely on stopping Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell from destroying what’s left of the middle class. So long as Trump was the center of attention, they were free to devote all their resources on him and the GOP was forced to play defense.
Funny how things can turn on a dime. Twenty-four hours go, we were talking about how this president both divulged classified intelligence to the Russians and attempted to impede the investigation of a member of his administration. The former has the potential to undermine our relationships with our allies and endanger our security; the latter, if true, is an impeachable offense. Now all the talk is going to be about Robert Mueller and his quest for the truth. The GOP catches a break and, for the time being at least, so does Trump.
As for the Democrats, they have an important special election in Georgia coming up, as well as the 2018 midterms to concern themselves with. Thanks to Rod Rosenstein doing the right thing, they will be forced to do something they haven’t been very good at for quite some time: make the case to the American people for why they should be in charge.
Since Barack Obama’s ascendancy to power in ’08, they have lost the Congress, the majority of state houses and the presidency. Rarely has a party’s fortunes taken such a hit over such a short period of time. Rebuilding that fortune will be a tall task indeed.
Being anti Trump isn’t going to be enough to convince the electorate to come back home. It was just that sort of delusional thinking that landed this man-child in the White House in the first place.
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