Last week the New York Times breathlessly reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had opened a new avenue of inquiry in the investigation of President Trump. According to the story by Michael Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, “Mueller Examining Trump’s Tweets in Wide-Ranging Obstruction Inquiry.” They report that Mueller is “scrutinizing tweets and negative statements from the president about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey[.]”
Schmidt and Haberman base their page-one story on interviews with “three people briefed on the matter.” Now I wonder if these people briefed on the matter might be seeking to discredit the Mueller investigation by the ridicule the story should generate. We can’t dismiss the thought.
If taken at face value, however, the story suggests to me that Mueller has many other angles he may have yet to explore. Mueller probably hasn’t exhausted the possibilities of building obstruction of justice charges against Trump based on his regular activities. Trump’s use of Twitter barely scratches the surface of the potential wrongdoing that falls within the scope of Mueller’s probe. Consider the possibilities:
• Trump has recruited and endorsed Republican congressional candidates in the midterm elections. If elected, these candidates might have to vote on articles of impeachment in the House and pass judgment on Trump in the Senate.
• Trump has raised campaign funds for the candidates he has recruited and endorsed. Now he has vowed to campaign for congressional candidates in the two months before election day.
• Trump has also criticized former Obama CIA Director and Gus Hall supporter John Brennan.
• Trump has in addition criticized Mueller’s supervisor in the investigation, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
• Trump has exercised his authority as president in ways designed to enhance his standing with American voters. If they were persuaded to vote for candidates Trump supports, Mueller’s investigation of Trump would come to naught.
• Trump has held campaign style rallies in which he has expressed impure thoughts about the Mueller investigation itself.
• Trump’s criticism of Sessions and Comey pales next to his criticism of Mueller himself. Indeed, it is based in part on Mueller’s investigation and actually includes ridicule. Trump has failed to provide Mueller the praise and encouragement he deserves in the pursuit of his removal from office.
Surely this cannot stand.