In the past week, Donald Trump agreed in principle to be interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The problem, of course, is what the contents of those questions will be.
When people are appointed to investigate actions of the President of the United States, the scope of the investigation tends to venture into uncomfortable territory. Archibald Cox was fired for ignoring orders to hamper his investigation into Richard Nixon. Ken Starr actions in the 1990s made him the poster boy of prosecutorial overreach. And now Mueller is determined to get his man. Even Starr notes Trump likely will concede to an interview.
And recent allegations of Trump’s affair with adult film actress Stormy Daniels is a reminder that 20 years ago, all it took for impeachment charges against Bill Clinton to stick was lying about sex. Some have speculated that. in light of the recent backlash against systemic sexual harassment and assault, Clinton’s behavior should have led to his resignation.
The problem with Trump’s case is that the Daniels affairs, and the very thinly sourced allegation the President is having an affair with U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, is that there are more substantial charges awaiting him. There are allegations he has threatened to fire advisers unwilling to slow down the Russia investigation or hobble Mueller’s powers.
The problem with this move is that it likely will engender the same response as did the firing of Cox in October of 1973 and what became known as the Saturday Night Massacre: turning Republicans as well as Democrats in Congress, and the nation, against the president.
Whether or not allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials will ever be proven, they happened prior to the President assuming the office and are outside the scope of impeachment consideration. However, obstruction of justice allegations in the firing of FBI Director James Comey and any subsequent lies he might be temped to offer up under oath are completely fair game for consideration if the House decides to bring articles of impeachment against Trump.
Fareed Zarkaria’s caveat-filled compliments regarding Trump’s comments at the World Economic Forum in Davos and any plans to “reset” the agenda at Tuesday’s State of the Union notwithstanding, the President will not be able to promote his agenda fully until he has dealt with the matter once and for all.
The chief problem is this entire scenario is that Donald Trump is used to being the most powerful man in the room who can distract the public with flash and brass.
But when going up against two former G-men whose popular support eclipses his, theatrics and time are not on his side.