Friday, July 21, 2017

Will Mueller Disappoint?

The Omnivore was told by his Trump-voting Twitter-friend that he (The Omnivore) would be very disappointed in the results of Mueller's investigation. Is that the case? What are the standards here? What does The Omnivore expect?

First Things First

Two somewhat disturbing stories came out yesterday: The administration is looking into its pardon-power and the administration is doing background checks on Mueller's team. These are disturbing in the context that the administration plans to fight the investigation tooth-and-nail, having deemed it a partisan witch-hunt.

It's not a partisan witch hunt. Mueller appeared largely because Trump shot himself in the foot with Comey by (a) firing him and then (b) telling NBC he fired him because Russia. Mueller's team makes it clear that he's taking it seriously--but if the standard is assumed that only Republican donors can investigate a Republican administration (or that law enforcement officials can never donate) then that creates a different, larger, set of problems.

Secondly, The Omnivore doesn't think that Trump was actually warning Mueller not to investigate his finances: the question specifically asked it in the context of Mueller over-reaching. The president's answer on that point was, to The Omnivore's read, legitimate ("If the guy over-reaches would you be upset?" "Yeah, if he over-reaches, I would be upset.").

So we're not back in threatening / obstructing territory yet.

So What Does The Omnivore Expect?

Let's be blunt: The Omnivore thinks that Trump is a terrible president who, if he does not right-the-ship, will be contesting president Buchanan for WORST. PREZ. EVER. However, his actions to-date that we know of do not make him a traitor. With this bias, announced, let's see.

Show Willingness to Collude: It seems like the most important question has already been answered - if the Russians had offered dirt, and promised more dirt, the team that met with him would have "loved it." Is that a crime? Maybe (anything "of value"--but the statute seems to exempt "information"--so The Omnivore doesn't know). However, the meeting Trump's executive team has goes well beyond Trump's debate joke ("please hack").

As far as The Omnivore goes, the gun--it is already smoking.

Damage Trump's Credibility: The reasons The Omnivore doesn't like Trump have to do with the erosion of norms, the damage to the dignity of America and the office of the president, and the promotion of the worst aspects of the GOP (racism, blind nationalism over patriotism, hatred of the press, victim mentality, etc.).

Either Trump moves to correct these on his own or The Omnivore wants him as a use-case for why these things suck. If Comey shows that Trump is not a patriot (and that seems like it's already been done) then, eh, The Omnivore is okay with that.

This means The Omnivore will be okay the investigation showing unsavory behavior--even if it does not rise to illegal.

Chances: 60% - Shows Trump / Team to have done unsavory things that do not rise to 'high crimes'

Shake Up Republicans: If the investigation shows that the Republicans are in-bed with a snake--that Trump was doing things they definitely didn't like, knew about (McCarthy's Trump-gets-paid-by-Russians 'joke'), and that they are covering for them? The Omnivore will be good with that.

Chances: 80% - Show behavior that the Republican chain of command must condemn and acknowledge they knew about.

Remove Trump From Office On The Merits: The Omnivore would not mind seeing Trump removed from office but isn't holding his breath for it either. To remove him "on the merits" it would have to be something serious--the kind of on-going collusion (such as using the Russian social-media machine to target Trump-Voters actively during the campaign).

Is there evidence of this? Maybe. The Omnivore will note that the chances of this have improved sharply from a few weeks ago with Don Jr's email showing the campaign's appetite for such behavior.

Chances: 30% - The investigation finds unequivocal collusion.

Trump Self-Sabotages Himself Out Of The Office: The other scenario is that Trump fires / tries to fire Mueller and the Republicans have "had enough" and impeach him. In this scenario, Trump is covering up something that's not Russian collusion--but is embarrassing and could get him (or his sons) into trouble. He pardons a bunch of staff for illegal, non-collusion behavior the investigation uncovers and the GOP has to remove him.

Chances: 40% - Presidential pardons or a Saturday Night Massacre scenario force an Impeachment hearing.


So will The Omnivore be disappointed? The scenario where he would be would be complete vindication - that Trump both did nothing illegal--but also nothing unsavory and the entire thing is validated as partisan Benghazi-style politics.

What are the odds of that? Probably under 20%. There has been some over-selling of this--but Jr.'s emails combined with Trump's pro-Russia behavior seem to have already crossed the lines established.

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