Trump rage-tweets on probe as McConnell blocks Mueller protection

CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports from the White House.

Posted: Nov 16, 2018 2:32 PM
Updated: Nov 16, 2018 2:57 PM

President Donald Trump is a man used to totally controlling his universe.

He was the head -- and most prominent face -- of his Trump business empire. He was the head -- and most prominent face -- of his hit reality TV shows: "The Apprentice" and "The Celebrity Apprentice." In both of those roles, what he said went -- without debate.

The whole aura of Trump is based on the idea that he does what he wants, when he wants. If he wants you fired, you get fired.

All of which brings me to the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russia interference in the 2016 presidential campaign and the possibility of collusion between the Russians and members of the Trump campaign. And Trump's clear frustration -- and nervousness(?) -- about it.

Tweeted Trump on Thursday:

"The inner workings of the Mueller investigation are a total mess. They have found no collusion and have gone absolutely nuts. They are screaming and shouting at people, horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want. They are a disgrace to our Nation and don't care how many lives the ruin. These are Angry People, including the highly conflicted Bob Mueller, who worked for Obama for 8 years. They won't even look at all of the bad acts and crimes on the other side. A TOTAL WITCH HUNT LIKE NO OTHER IN AMERICAN HISTORY!"

It's not clear how Trump obtained information about the "inner workings" of the Mueller investigation given that special counsel's office has been tight-lipped about its approach -- only occasionally revealing something when a plea agreement is reached or when someone like Paul Manafort faces trial based on what Mueller's team uncovered. Given Trump's track record with the truth -- and his fixation on the idea that Mueller is conducting a witch hunt (even though he's not) -- the possibility certainly exists that Trump made up his alleged insider information about the Mueller probe.

The broader context here speaks to Trump's ever-mounting frustration with his inability to control the Mueller probe. We know -- thanks to CNN reporting -- that Trump spent several hours this week huddled with his attorneys going over written answers to questions that the Mueller team had submitted to the White House regarding the 2016 campaign.

That Trump's tweet on Mueller came after that intense period of question-answering provides our clearest evidence yet that Trump's anger and impatience is bubbling over. But it's far from the only sign.

The biggest indicator of Trump desperately trying to seize control of the uncontrollable came last Wednesday when Trump finally fired his long-maligned Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump had never forgiven Sessions for recusing himself from the FBI investigation into Russian interference; in Trump's mind, that decision by Sessions led to the formation of the special counsel and all of the problems Mueller's investigation has caused within Trump's administration. The firing of Sessions, however, was not the big news -- that was Trump's decision to bypass Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who was overseeing the Mueller investigation, and instead name Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general.

Suddenly, a public critic of the Mueller probe almost since its inception was in charge of its operations. (That Whitaker, who has not been confirmed by the Senate, is now in charge of people like Rosenstein, who does have Senate confirmation, is a also a potential legal hurdle.) And not only that, but Whitaker was selected over Rosenstein, who had been publicly supportive of Mueller and the probe generally.

Trump himself has also grown more and more boastful about what he could do to Mueller and the probe -- if he so chose. "I could fire everybody right now, but I don't want to stop it because politically I don't like stopping it," Trump said last week in the wake of the 2018 midterm elections (more on that in a minute). "It's a disgrace. It should never have been started, because there is no crime."

That's not technically accurate. The only person who could fire Mueller is the attorney general. So Trump could tell Whitaker to fire Mueller and, in theory, Whitaker could do that. (Whitaker has given no public indication whether he would be willing to follow that order from Trump.) There are legal and political issues that would naturally flow from such a move -- among them the question of whether Mueller can be fired without obvious cause and how Republicans (and Democrats) in Congress would react to the special counsel's investigation being ended.

Trump knows all of this. Which is what leads to his frustration. He's boxed in. He can't do what he wants to do. (Remember that Trump already tried to remove Mueller but was thwarted when then-White House counsel Donald McGahn refused to carry out the order.) He has no operational control over this situation.

Trump, when cornered, is at his most dangerous -- to his political opponents and, candidly, to himself. He lashes out. He veers even further from established truth and facts.

In short: The longer the Mueller probe continues, the more likely Trump is to say or do something with potentially cataclysmic impact on his administration (and the investigation). All outward signs indicate he's getting closer and closer to that sort of point of no return.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 248189

Reported Deaths: 5411
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto16841171
Hinds15890312
Harrison13037191
Rankin10439205
Jackson10128177
Lee8721135
Madison8071160
Jones6166108
Forrest5870117
Lauderdale5724177
Lowndes5238109
Lafayette486192
Lamar475363
Washington4734122
Bolivar3941106
Oktibbeha388179
Panola360475
Pontotoc358752
Monroe3487103
Warren337895
Union337457
Marshall336065
Neshoba3325150
Pearl River319492
Leflore2980104
Lincoln293385
Sunflower277569
Tate266659
Alcorn260651
Itawamba258858
Pike258176
Hancock253557
Prentiss242450
Scott241043
Yazoo237754
Copiah237449
Tippah236246
Simpson232367
Leake227864
Coahoma223154
Grenada215770
Covington208871
Marion206171
Adams201666
Winston198061
George197438
Wayne196130
Attala191658
Newton186542
Chickasaw181243
Tishomingo179659
Holmes167867
Jasper165134
Clay156732
Stone140218
Tallahatchie138234
Clarke136460
Calhoun133321
Smith118823
Yalobusha113834
Walthall111136
Noxubee109622
Greene108929
Montgomery108134
Carroll103721
Lawrence101217
Perry99131
Amite96425
Webster90624
Claiborne85125
Tunica84521
Jefferson Davis83825
Humphreys81524
Benton80323
Kemper75720
Quitman6758
Franklin65315
Choctaw59613
Wilkinson58125
Jefferson53019
Sharkey42417
Issaquena1586
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 417528

Reported Deaths: 6030
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson61313888
Mobile29768542
Madison26637185
Tuscaloosa20580268
Montgomery18696304
Shelby18310113
Baldwin16002179
Lee12261101
Morgan12093112
Etowah11604157
Calhoun10982200
Marshall10108107
Houston8474129
Cullman7960104
Limestone790174
Elmore7723101
DeKalb764697
St. Clair7460120
Lauderdale745183
Talladega6102108
Walker5852174
Jackson574441
Blount526483
Colbert525670
Autauga510355
Coffee434256
Dale391081
Franklin363445
Chilton333565
Covington326167
Russell323810
Escambia312442
Dallas300296
Clarke278233
Chambers277869
Tallapoosa2599107
Pike245829
Marion240549
Lawrence240447
Winston223835
Bibb213047
Geneva197431
Marengo197329
Pickens195231
Hale173742
Barbour171236
Butler167958
Fayette166026
Cherokee159630
Henry151119
Monroe144417
Randolph138535
Washington136526
Clay125246
Crenshaw118044
Lamar116619
Cleburne116023
Macon113335
Lowndes108735
Wilcox101221
Bullock98128
Perry95419
Conecuh92920
Sumter88726
Greene75323
Coosa60414
Choctaw51224
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