Newt Gingrich and the war against Robert Mueller

I’ve only spoken with former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich once. It was late ’93 or early ’94. I was living in a suburb of Atlanta, and working at Kinko’s. I’d worked an early shift that day, and, driving back home to my apartment, I decided to stop at a little park along the way and take a walk through the woods. If memory serves, there was just one other car in the small parking lot when I pulled in. It was big and white, and had two “Newt” bumper stickers on it. It may have been a Cadillac, but I’m not sure. I parked, got out and started walking up the trail when Newt Gingrich, with his head down, walked past me with a brusk “hello.” He was followed a few steps behind by a woman who I now know to be Callista Bisek, the congressional staffer he’d eventually make the third Mrs. Gingrich. While I didn’t see any evidence of sexual activity, I definitely got the sense that I’d interrupted something. As Newt pushed past me, red-faced, making his way briskly toward the parking lot, I felt like a kid who had just almost caught his parents in the act of fucking. It made such an impression on me, in fact, that I not only wrote down what had happened upon getting back to my apartment, but I took Linette back to the spot later that week and reenacted it for her, so that she could appreciate how uncomfortable and strange the encounter was.

I wouldn’t know it until years later, as I wasn’t following Georgia politics terribly closely at the time, but Newt was married when this went down. In fact, according to Wikipedia, Gingrich had just started his affair with Bisek in ’93, so I suppose it’s possible that this might have even been one of their first romantic encounters that I’d almost stumbled into. [Their affair would go on for seven years, until 2000, when Gingrich would leave his second wife, Marianne, after she refused to accept the idea of an open marriage. Newt and Marianne had been married since 1981.]

At any rate, it’s crossed my mind from time to time over the years that this was probably my one real chance to have changed the course of history. Had I had a camera with me, and had I been just a little quieter as I made my way through the forest that day, who knows what might have been. [This was at a time when affairs could still end a promising political career, well before the Republican Party platform evolved to incorporate pussy grabbing and pedophilia.]

Might I have brought Newt down with a sex scandal, just as he was ascending to into the leadership of Republican Party with his Contract with America? And, if so, how might the Republican Party be different today? Would there be a Donald Trump without a Newt Gingrich, pushing ethical boundaries, and plumbing the depths of toxic rhetoric? [New to Congress in ’78, Gingrich famously said, “I think one of the great problems we have in the Republican party is that we don’t encourage you to be nasty.” And he did his best to change that, laying the groundwork for Trump in the process.]

But I wasn’t as quiet as I could have been, and I didn’t have a camera… and now we have Gingrich, who’s become even more unhinged over the past several years, doing the work of Donald Trump, going on television to call Bob Mueller “corrupt,” and suggesting that a deep state coup is underway.

For what it’s worth, Gingrich didn’t always think Mueller was corrupt. Not too long ago, in fact, the former Speaker of the House thought that Mueller’s reputation for “honesty and integrity” was “impeccable.” Of course, a lot has happened since then. Most notably, with several prominent members of the administration now under indictment, Mueller seems to be taking direct aim at Trump’s inner circle, interrogating his son, and digging into the financial dealings of the Trump organization, and, in so doing, crossing the “red line” that Trump had warned him not to cross.

Thankfully, up until this point, Mueller has handled the investigation beautifully, slowly encircling the administration in such a way that it’s doubtful that, should Trump decide to fire him, he’d avoid impeachment. But clearly members of the far right are preparing for that eventuality, laying the groundwork for Trump to fire Mueller… Jeanine Pirro just called for a purge of the FBI on Fox News, saying, “It’s time to take them out in cuffs.” And Fox host Sean Hannity yesterday called Mueller, “A disgrace to the American justice system.” Referring to Mueller as the “head of the snake,” Hannity said that his investigation has put the United States “on the brink of becoming a banana republic.” And it’s not just Fox News hosts that are going on the the offensive against Mueller, questioning his integrity, and essentially accusing him and his fellow investigators of being a lying, corrupt, Hillary-loving, America-hating traitors. Late last week, Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert, in a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee, began naming FBI agents assigned to the Mueller probe and saying that their “political views” should be looked into… I’ve certainly been wrong before, but I think we’re finally entering the endgame.

And, as the President’s surrogates test the waters for an aggressive assault of the intelligence community, Trump is doing his best to divert attention away from the investigation by fomenting terrorist attacks across the Middle East and here in the United States, by announcing that the U.S. Embassy will be moving to Jerusalem. Sure, very wealthy Trump supporters, like Sheldon Adelson, have wanted this for years, and Trump will surely need their support if it comes to all out war over his impeachment, but, really, why did this have to be done now? Given the state of the world, why did Trump have to go against the advice of his military advisors and make the announcement about Jerusalem now? I think it’s pretty lear that he wanted to push the Mueller investigation off the front pages. And that’s terrifying. [I suppose we should just be thankful that I didn’t choose his other option, which was war with North Korea.]

Here, by the way, is what Gingrich thought of Mueller before… back when he thought that the conservative former FBI agent might be persuaded to look the other way, and allow Trump to be Trump, nation be damned… and back before his wife Callista settled into her plum appointment as U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican.

As for where all of this leaves us, I’m not so sure. My sense, however, is that the pressure will keep building on both sides until Tuesday, when we see what happens in the Alabama Senate race, which I suspect will trigger the final act… More on that tomorrow.

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  1. Demetrius
    Posted December 11, 2017 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Our cold civil war seems to be heating up.

  2. anonymous
    Posted December 11, 2017 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    It looks like Trump was successful. It only took four days, but announcement about Jerusalem has born fruit. There was a pipe bombing at New York’s Port Authority this morning.

  3. Eric Garland on Twitter
    Posted December 11, 2017 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    They won’t go lightly. This last part will suck.

  4. Iron Lung
    Posted December 11, 2017 at 10:05 am | Permalink


  5. M
    Posted December 11, 2017 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Greg Sargent‏ of the Washington Post is reporting on the NBC News story that Mueller is looking at whether Trump directed Mike Flynn to lie to the FBI.

    If it’s true that Mueller is looking into this, that can only mean that Flynn has told him that he took his marching orders directly from Trump, and now Mueller is trying to find others to corroborate the story. This is a big deal, as it would prove criminality on Trump’s part.

  6. ypsidoodledandy
    Posted December 11, 2017 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Interesting article from Glenn Greenwald about Russia coverage:

  7. Jean Henry
    Posted December 11, 2017 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Ypsidoodle: That Glen Greenwald article cracks me up. How can a rag that runs headlines like that, and that extrapolates from any failure of the press to its total dysfunction, position itself as the last word on ethics in Journalism? Gotcha journalism is the same click bait bullshit no matter ones perspective or what one covers. Gossip is less ethically suspect. My favorite part was where Greenwald hat-tips to WaPo for actually breaking the story (something WaPo dies daily lately). Those who follow Greenwald know he regularly condemns WaPo as drumming up the Russia-gate story for the sake of its political agenda and clicks. Meanwhile Greenwald sits in wait if any failure of journalism desperately trying to confirm his political narrative but can’t break a story for his life.

  8. Kim
    Posted December 11, 2017 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Bob Mueller is not only going after the Deutsche Bank records. The House Financial Services Dems are also “pressing Mnuchin for info about biz ties between Trump and Russia, demanding cooperation ‘in determining the extent of any undue influence on the President and his Admin from Russian government officials, oligarchs, and organized crime leaders.'”

  9. Dan R.
    Posted December 11, 2017 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    If I ever go to Atlanta again, which I hope I don’t, I’d request that you and Linette re-enact your reenactment. We could make a documentary.

  10. wobblie
    Posted December 11, 2017 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    ypsidoodledandy, thanks for the link.

    Jean Henry, being an apologist for the corporate Democrats just does not understand honorable people. She seems to lose a nut when ever Glenn Greenwald’s name is mentioned.

  11. Jean Henry
    Posted December 12, 2017 at 2:34 am | Permalink

    Wobblie— Im an apologist for no one. Have you ever seen me at a Dem Party event? No you have not because I’ve never been to one and never will. I supported Clinton and pointed up the misogyny and populist corruption of the Sanders campaign but that doesn’t make me a Dem party sympathizer. I have criticized both Clinton and the DNC plenty in the past. There was no need to do so during this oastcelsction. That perspective was well covered. I also realized that my previous perspective had been warped by a series of assumptions, a narrative, that was inaccurate. I used to like Greenwald too. My dislike of him has grown because of his work in the last two years. It has colored my perspective on his past coverage too. Romance over. I read the Intercept; That’s why I dislike Greenwald. I hope they dump Him one of these days. I consider those who believe and repeat his every word without critique to be as co-opted as any Dem Party loyalist ever. The idea that he is honorable is laughable. The use of that word (not one I would easily apply to any journalist or politician) demonstrates that you have the kind of unquestioning allegiance of which you accuse me.

  12. M
    Posted December 12, 2017 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    The war on Mueller is intensifying.

    Axios is reporting that the White House wants “an additional special counsel named to investigate the investigators.”

  13. M
    Posted December 15, 2017 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    It’s happening, people.

    CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins‏ just reported the following:

    Rep. Matt Gaetz, who was with Trump on Air Force One last week, says on CNN that it’s time for the special counsel to “put up or shut up.” “I call on my Republican colleagues to join me in the firing of Bob Mueller.”

  14. Jean Henry
    Posted December 15, 2017 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    They don’t have the votes to fire Mueller. No way.

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  1. […] know we talked about the Republican campaign to stop the Russia investigation just a few days ago, but quite a bit has happened since then, and I think it’s probably […]

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