There has been a lot of talk and a lot of speculation over where Special Investigator Robert Mueller’s investigation can and will go now that he has empaneled a grand jury.
As I mentioned this morning, it appears that the investigation is really looking hard into Paul Manafort, which is totally understandable, because Manafort is shady as heck. A CNN post yesterday also indicated that Mike Flynn and other Trump associates were also looked at very closely. What has been noticeably absent from the Mueller team’s leaks, and from the media reports, is any hint of evidence that the investigation is looking closely at Trump and his kids.
There are reports that Mueller was looking into Trump’s finances (as we pointed out, that is Trump’s “red line”), but there is nothing saying that Trump and the kids are in trouble… yet.
All of that suggests that this appears to be a case of Both Sides Are Wrong: Trump loyalists are wrong in saying there’s nothing there, while Trump haters are wrong that Trump himself colluded.
Now, this is all speculation on my part, based on what is publicly known, but here’s my take: In order to nail Trump, you have to prove it was under his direction that anything close to what his political opponents accuse him of actually happened. I have a theory about this, and it’s one I’ve been thinking over since the news broke yesterday.
My theory is that Trump was actually so uninvolved in the campaign itself that he could not have possibly overseen anything. He hired managers (like Manafort) to manage. Trump himself went out and said things based on what he thought, what he heard, and, most importantly, what played well with the crowds.
Meanwhile, Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and others went on to run things, set things up, etc., and Trump wasn’t really all that tuned in to what they were doing or saying.
Given the regular reports of chaos over messaging and Trump’s inability to stay on any said message, I find it increasingly unlikely that Manafort or anyone else came up to Trump and asked for permission to do something. Remember the strategy he touted: Hire people and pit them against each other. That’s exactly what happened, and (in Trump’s mind) the strongest person/ideas win out.
Now, let’s say someone did come in and ask for Trump’s permission. I imagine the conversation was like this:
PERSON 1: Mr. Trump/Dad, I think we should do Plan A.
PERSON 2: Mr. Trump/Dad, I think we should do Plan B.
PERSON 1 & 2: What do you think, sir?
And that’s the extent of his input. At that point, Person 1 and Person 2 fight it out and someone wins. Trump will sorta kinda go along with that idea, but he was not (and is not) a man who can be controlled, so he mostly continues to do this own thing.
All of this brings us back to the heavily demonized Mueller. Do I think he’s actively trying to stick something on Trump? Not really. Do I think he’s putting on a tough show of it? Absolutely. Mueller would be wise to shake every branch possible to see what falls out, including Trump’s finances. Remember, too, that Trump fires predominantly people who appear weak. Mueller is aggressive in pursuing a goal, which is something deep down Trump respects.
If Trump does fire Mueller, it’s not because there’s nothing there. It’s because there is something he wants to hide. If there is nothing there, then Trump will allow Mueller to keep going, albeit under “protest.”
Manafort should definitely be worried. I don’t actually think Trump and the kids have too much to worry about. But, Mueller does not seem like he’s going to give up, which is pretty much the best quality an investigator should have.