Saturday, December 16, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He complained that the special counsel investigating him was succeeding in investigating him.

After the election, members of Trump's transition team were given government email addresses ending in from the General Services Administration. Anticipating that the Mueller investigation would want to look at them, the Trump administration had filtered out the ones it considered too sensitive to allow Mueller to see. But instead of asking to see the edited collection that Trump was offering, the special counsel's office obtained all of them, totalling "tens of thousands," directly from the GSA. 

Trump's position, expressed today through his lawyer Kory Langhofer, is that these e-mails were obtained "unlawfully." But as legal experts noted, prosecutors obtain information from third parties (including government sources) all the time, particularly when they believe that the targets of their investigation would tamper with or conceal incriminating evidence if asked for it directly. 

One telling detail is that Langhofer directed his complaints to Congress, not to Mueller or his supervisor at the Department of Justice. Recently, Trump has settled on a strategy of trying to delegitimize the Mueller investigation (and federal law enforcement in general) with the public, so that Congressional Republicans will not feel politically obliged to act if and when Trump fires Mueller.

Why is this a bad thing?

  • Presidents who don't want to look like criminals should help investigators, not withhold evidence from them.
  • Exposing an assault on American democracy is more important than any president's political well being.