Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Rational Calculation

Nate Silver and Ned Price disagree as to whether Times reporters Michael Schmidt and Nicholas Fandos correctly portray the White House as "calculating" because

The Trump administration directed a top American diplomat involved in its pressure campaign on Ukraine not to appear Tuesday morning for a scheduled interview in the House’s impeachment inquiry.

The decision to block Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, from speaking with investigators for three House committees is certain to provoke an immediate conflict with potentially profound consequences for the White House and President Trump. House Democrats have repeatedly warned that if the administration tries to interfere with their investigation, it will be construed as obstruction, a charge they see as potentially worthy of impeachment.

Democrats from the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees did not immediately respond on Tuesday.

But in making the decision, hours before he was scheduled to sit for a deposition in the basement of the Capitol, the Trump administration appears to be calculating that it is better off risking the House’s ire than letting Mr. Sondland show up and set a precedent for cooperation with an inquiry they have strenuously argued is illegitimate.

I'm throwing in with Price. As Lawrence O'Donnell's guest James B. Stewart, lawyer, NY Times columnist, and author of the intentionally ironically titled "Deep State" explains, then-Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein twice raised the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment to rid the nation of President Trump. He even approached Attorney General Sessions and Chief of Staff Kelly in the  effort and (as seen beginning at 3:37 of the video below)

....the Justice Department was drafting the press release that he was fired when he went over there (summoned by Trump). He was being taken to the woodshed. Everybody knew, the New York Times had printed that he was going to wear the wire. Trump was ready to fire him.

Somehow, he left with his job intact.What did he do to keep his job and reassure Trump? And then, in turn, what did he do to keep Mueller in the job? I mean, he was Mueller's boss. What did Muellerhave to do or not do in order to keep from being fired by Rosenstein?

Now, Rosenstein's colleagues say to me, in his defense, that his sole mission was to protect Mueller. He did what he had to do to get Mueller over the finish line.

But if the price of getting him over the finish line was to clip his wings, to not let Mueller insist on getting testimony from the President (as every prosecutor I now believes he should have done), then for Mueller to have ignored the whole story of Rosenstein in his report- which I report in my book but he didn't put in the report- and I now he knew it because Rosenstein was one of the first people he interviewed, why that wasn't in there remains very baffling and I think leads to legitimate suspicion that Mueller was influenced to, you know, pull some punches there.

In turn. Whatever it was that got Mueller "to pull some (extremely important) punches," the President knew what it was. This is not the portrait of someone stupid, crazy, out of control, or even more than reasonably panicked. It is someone whose instincts of self-preservation are very much intact, just as they were when he or his lawyers decided Tuesday morning that it would not be wise to have Gordon Sundland spill his guts, or even some of them.

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