Just because Mueller’s been appointed to investigate the Trump-Russia connection, doesn’t mean we should allow Congressional Republicans off the hook

Saying, “The public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein this evening announced that he had appointed well-respected, former FBI Director Robert Mueller to head an independent investigation into Russia’s involvement in our last election, and the possibility that agents of Vladamir Putin’s government colluded with Donald Trump’s campaign staff. This, it would appear, came an absolute shock to Trump, who, we were told a few days ago, thought these multiple, concurrent investigations would end with the firing of James Comey, which, by the way, the administration, at least initially, blamed on a memo authored by Rosenstein about the FBI Director’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server. [The President would eventually say that the decision to fired Comey was his own, and that it had to do with what her referred to as “the Russia thing”, which many, including myself, took as an admission of obstruction.]

Oh, and it also came out today that, according to people familiar with the situation, Trump not only unsuccessfully solicited an oath of loyalty from Comey before firing him, but asked Comey to drop the investigation of Michael Flynn, who, as we now know, lied about his communications with the Russians during the campaign. And, perhaps just as importantly, news just broke a few hours ago that, just a month before Trump secured the Republican nomination for president, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy stated to his fellow GOP leaders on Capitol Hill that he believed Trump to be on Putin’s payroll. And, not only is it on tape, but, after McCarthy says it, Paul Ryan can be heard cautioning those in attendance not to share what’s being talking about, adding, “What’s said in the family, stays in the family,” like the patriarch of an organized crime family… As for why this tape is being released now, one can only imagine it’s part of a coordinated campaign within the GOP to save the party by sacrificing Trump.

So, yeah, I guess you could say it’s been an eventful day.

As for the naming of Mueller as the special counsel running the investigation, almost everyone, from what I can tell, appears pleased, saying that he’s beyond reproach, and just the kind of person we need to lead us through this mess and restore faith in our government. For what it’s worth, though, people also seem to think that the investigation will now… at least from the perspective of those of us watching from the outside… slow down considerably, as Mueller will likely both shut down the leaks we’ve grown so accustomed to, and begin attacking this in a more methodical manner. [Philip Mudd, ex deputy director of the CIA Counterterrorist Center, is quoted as saying the following about the Mueller appointment: “This guy isn’t just good. He is THE best that ever was. There is nobody better at doggedly pursuing a case. And I know he would hate me for saying this, I know him personally, but he has a heart and a sense of humor too.”]

Personally, as good as all of that sounds, I was hoping that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi would find a way to bring the idea of an independent investigation to the floor of the House, as she mentioned that she was trying to do this this morning. “The inaction of the Republican Congress in the face of the President’s appalling conduct is unacceptable,” she said in a statement. “Today, Democrats are moving to force a vote on the bipartisan legislation establishing an independent outside commission to investigate the Trump-Russia connection and the possibility of collusion to interfere in the election.” Like Pelosi, who added, “Republicans in Congress must decide whether they will be accomplices to the President’s abuses, or whether they will honor their oath to the Constitution,” I wanted to get these people on the record right now, before this goes any further, as to where they stand. As all of the House Republicans will be running for reelection in 2018, I want evidence of where they stand right now on Trump and whether not they feel as though an independent investigation is necessary. I don’t want to give them any more time to carefully select their words, or rewrite history… Speaking of which, did you see that Liz Cheney went back and deleted her tweet praising Trump for his firing of Comey? Oh, and word on the street is that the networks can no longer find any Republicans willing to go on camera and defend Trump… So, yes, things are definitely beginning to shift.

At any rate, I wanted it to come to a vote on the floor of the House so that I’d have a list of all those Republicans who voted against an investigation, to put right alongside my list of all those Republicans who voted to take health care from 24 million Americans and roll back protections on those with pre-existing medical conditions. But I know that the Republicans, who still have the numbers, would have found a way to keep it from a vote. And, even if they did move to initiate an independent investigation, I doubt that they would have gotten anyone as good as Mueller. So, all in all, I’d say this was a pretty good day… At least we now know the investigation is going to keep moving forward.

Oh, and for what it’s worth, some Republicans had begun to see the light relative to an independent investigation. News broke early this afternoon that four Republican senators (Graham, Heller, McCain, and Murkowski) had come out in favor of an independent investigation into Russia/Trump. And Michigan’s own Justin Amash today became the first Republican in Congress to say that, if the claims were true about Trump having asked Comey to end the investigation into Flynn, he’d support impeachment… As for the other Republicans, I’m sure they’re breathing a little easier tonight, knowing that they’re no longer being called on to appoint a special prosecutor. Now, I’m sure they’re thinking they can stop pretending to be investigating Trump, just defer to Mueller, and get on about the business of laying waste to the democratic underpinnings of our society. And that’s what I think we need to fight against. We can’t allow them to hide. We need to keep the investigation in front of them every minute, and we need to try our best to force them to publicly take a side. We need to know if they stand with Trump, or the American people.

As for where all of this is heading, I think I was right when I said on Twitter earlier today that he’d make a break for it, possibly while on this first international trip of his. Yes, I know it’s unlikely that a sitting President of the United States would hijack Air Force One and take it to a country without an extradition treaty with the U.S., but all of this has been unlikely.

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  1. Rat
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    But wait, there’s more. Trump’s transition team knew Michael Flynn was under investigation before he came to the White House, and the head of the transition team was Mike Pence. No one is coming out of this clean.

  2. Eel
    Posted May 18, 2017 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    One possible scenario: Trump walks away from office claiming that the “deep state” made it impossible for him to make America great again. Pence pardons him. He then goes on to create a media empire along with Bannon that continues to plant seeds of paranoia and distrust in the minds of America’s most fearful.

  3. anonymous
    Posted May 18, 2017 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    You can laugh about the deep state, but they killed American hero Roger Ailes last night.

  4. Jean Henry
    Posted May 18, 2017 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Like Ailes, Trump, Bill O’Reilly, Cosby and all other serial sexual harassers and blowhards deserve to die miserably– treated as they treated others their whole damned lives.

  5. M
    Posted May 18, 2017 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    The best part of all of this was the look on Mitch McConnell’s face.


  6. M
    Posted May 18, 2017 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    I could tell you a story I heard about Ailes but you’d never believe me.

  7. Jean Henry
    Posted May 18, 2017 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    An independent inquiry has no capacity to bring federal charges. The FBI special prosecutor does. It by-passes the impeachment process. The Special Prosecutor, especially this one, is the ideal solution.

    I don’t just want Trump out of office. I want him to go to jail. Any of us would have gone to jail for what he did with regularity as a private citizen. I’m not a big fan of punishment as means of correction, and I doubt Trump will ever understand his failings, but I want him shut down– from fame, freedom and doing business. Certainly from becoming a right wing media mogul–now that Ailes is gone. And that’s the only way.

  8. Jean Henry
    Posted May 18, 2017 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    I tell you my story about Snow Buddy if you tell me your story about Ailes:)

  9. Jean Henry
    Posted May 18, 2017 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Mitch, in that clip, clenched and went (more) red in the face, like a toddler shitting his diaper.

  10. M
    Posted May 18, 2017 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Trump isn’t happy.

    Donald J. Trump‏Verified account @realDonaldTrump

    “With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special counsel appointed!”


  11. M
    Posted May 18, 2017 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Someone should remind him about Benghazi.

    Donald J. Trump‏Verified account @realDonaldTrump

    “This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”


  12. Citywatch
    Posted May 18, 2017 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    I was wrong when I said this would never go anywhere…..no special prosecutor etc. Glad I was wrong about that. Now, what did Pence and the others know and for how long?
    I fear what Eel was talking about above. Trump could be as dangerous to our democracy out of office as he is in office. The possibility of a Trump/Bannon media empire has already been talked about as a possibility if Trump had lost the election. It now might include Bill O’Reilly for heaven’s sake! But let’s not borrow trouble from the future. One crisis at a time.

  13. Lynne
    Posted May 18, 2017 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    I want to hear the story about Ailes and the snow buddy!!!

  14. Dave Morris
    Posted May 18, 2017 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    I am concerned that Trump is only a manifestation of some deeper crisis we are experiencing.

    We can’t have good governance if we can’t collectively identifying and hold in our collective conscience the proper form and function of governance. If there is no agreement on this, then there is no clearly defined good that we are either trying to preserve or progress toward.

    It is not just Trump that does not understand the duties of his office.

  15. Dan Rather by proxy
    Posted May 18, 2017 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    “No one who played a role in normalizing this President should be allowed to forget it.”

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  1. […] as we discussed might happen yesterday, now that it’s been announced that former FBI Director Mueller will be heading an independent R…. And, I guess, as Graham sees it, going back after Clinton will not only give the impression of […]

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