What a tangled web indeed. No amount of press spin or social media chest thumping can distract from the fact that the White House’s Barr-infused euphoria of April has curdled.
The drumbeat of bad news for the administration comes mainly from the rhythm of their own missteps. Attorney General William Barr kicks off the Mueller release by saying he does not want to release the report piecemeal, then proceeds to do just that with a letter that summarizes the report, although he insists it is not a summary, then a letter about the first letter, then his odd appearances on the Hill.
In the process he advances a legal theory that relieves the Trump campaign of any guilt in associating with Russia by establishing a standard for cooperation as the result of “an agreement, tacit or expressed” to do so, meaning if everyone did not get around a table in the spring of 2016 and decide to collude it could not have been a conspiracy. As we now know, the ways in which the Trump campaign was compromised were de-centralized, meaning the way Mike Flynn was ensnared was different than Carter Page, which was different than George Papadopoulos. Barr’s demand that an agreement between participants has to be in place to prove criminality is eccentric at best.
This is what happens when morally rudderless people convene around a vain leader whose only constituency and motivation is the face he sees every day in the mirror.
But Barr’s verbal jujitsu did its original job, most likely the one he was hired to provide – a singular soap box for three weeks during which the president used Barr’s summary to trumpet exaggerated and often plainly wrong interpretations of the report.
And things are about to get worse.
News of Donald Trump Jr.’s subpoena from the Senate Intelligence Committee sends a searing flare across the president’s sky, clearly telegraphing that the GOP-controlled Senate may not be as monolithically McConnell-controlled as thought. That is a big deal, having a Republican-controlled investigation issue this subpoena – the result of what must have been a series of tortuous internal machinations between their leadership and the White House. This installs the next chapter in this sad saga.
Multiple investigations are underway that remain secret. The New York State Senate has passed legislation that would allow the president’s state taxes to be released. The New York Times has reported that Trump lost $1 billion over a 10-year period that allowed him to pay virtually no income tax as a result.
What does all of this mean?
Remember that Democrats actually picked up seats in Congress during President Clinton’s impeachment, drama due in large part to that White House’s discipline in building a firewall between governing and dealing with the daily operational requirements of the impeachment itself.
This White House gives no indication of having that kind of discipline. Its day to day operations are geared more toward providing the president with his daily allowance of grievance than it is on governing. This is what happens when morally rudderless people convene around a vain leader whose only constituency and motivation is the face he sees every day in the mirror. Everything else is deception.
The drumbeat continues.