President Donald Trump may have some firing to do. But he shouldn’t fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions, special counsel Robert Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. No, the president should fire or at least sharply curtail the role of Ty Cobb and all of the lawyers in and out of the White House who are working on Trump’s behalf regarding the Mueller investigation. It’s not that they have done a bad job; it’s just time for the president to cease any and all forms of voluntary cooperation with the investigation.
Mueller has gone beyond the fringes of his mandate of investigating so-called collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia (remember that?) to pursuing matters that are tangential, and now he has entered the realm of the trivial. The president should not indulge the trivial.
Regardless of whether it is under the auspices of Mueller’s investigation — we don’t know all the information that Mueller and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York have — the raid on Trump’s personal lawyer and the pursuit of Michael Cohen’s dealings with women who claim to have had affairs with Trump certainly started with the special counsel. At his instigation, the quest to prove collusion with Russia now includes an urgent investigation of a lawyer’s role in paying for silence on alleged affairs conducted more than a decade ago. I say urgent because evidently that matter warranted FBI raids on three locations to scoop up the relevant evidence. Interesting how the FBI prioritizes its activities these days. I can’t imagine that there isn’t something more important and useful for the FBI to pursue. Certainly, the raid on Trump’s lawyer should rule out any prospect of the president granting Mueller an interview. If this is what the investigation has become, Trump should not voluntarily cooperate in any way. Period. Understandably, Trump is angry. But he should leave the investigation alone. Let Mueller’s probe or probes run their course and produce whatever reports will be produced. Only then should Trump take appropriate action.
Starting with the president, the White House should quit talking about Mueller. Voluntarily cooperating with his investigations should no longer be automatic. Every witness associated with the probe should begin taking the Fifth Amendment. No one should feel compelled to fuel the wandering probe and the obvious desperate quest to get Trump. Enough is enough. The investigation has ceased to be serious. And don’t even get me started over the difference in the FBI’s quest to coddle and clear Hillary Clinton vs. the treatment Trump has received.
For Republicans in Congress, not cooperating means shrugging off Mueller’s probe and moving on with their business. The GOP should plan re-election campaigns ignoring the uncertainty of Mueller’s investigation. The Democrats and their media allies are going to keep talking about Mueller anyway, so why give them more ammunition?
Perhaps ironically, Trump should learn from Bill Clinton’s experience. Clinton thought his dalliances with a White House intern and women everywhere were inconsequential. He thought that he could lie about his past, that Hillary Clinton would continue to defend and enable him and that he was more clever than any prosecutor. He almost pulled it off. But he ended up in an interview with Ken Starr’s team, and it made a big difference. I’m sure that if he had it to do over again, Clinton and his team would have cooperated a lot less than they did.
Mueller may still be the good man and honest professional that I thought he was, but it is time to draw the line. He needs to say what the results of his investigation have produced, Trump needs to stop taking the bait and obsessing over Mueller, and the president’s team needs to clam up.
Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush White Houses and several national campaigns.
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