The Best Evidence Trump is Guilty in the Russia Probe is Still His Reaction to It
This week, the seemingly endless investigation into Russian meddling on behalf of President Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election has suddenly burst back into the headlines. The new stories have run the gamut from the explosive, to the confusing, to the titillating, to the possibly flat-out false.
Since the beginning, following the Mueller probe has felt like being led through a complicated maze while blindfolded. Those who trust the tour guide (Robert Mueller), who is giving us tantalizing hints along the journey, are convinced that every turn of a corner is leading us inexorably to the promised land of Trump’s eventual destruction. Those who don’t have any faith in where they are being led, are probably even more certain that this is all going nowhere important, and that it needs to end as soon as possible.
Like many interested observers, I have spent a lot of time and effort trying to figure out what it all really means and where we are ultimately headed. However, amidst all the confusion and seemingly contradictory information, I simply have not been able to come up with a reasonable scenario which is consistent with everything that we currently think we know. (One of the many great challenges of this exercise is that there could very well be key pieces of information we believe to be true, but which are not.)
So, in the absence of a full-blown narrative which currently makes total sense (it is easy to get the feeling that the real story here is so crazy that there simply may not be one), we are still left with one overriding conclusion: President Trump, or at least his son Don Jr., is guilty of something very serious.
This appears to be the case not because of any certified facts of the case — though there are many which point in this direction — but rather because of the nature of Trump’s reaction to the investigation itself. In fact, it would be difficult to think of a high-profile suspect who acted more obviously guilty since O.J. Simpson famously headed for the Mexican border in a white Ford Bronco.
This is hardly a new phenomenon, but in only this past week the record is filled with acts from Trump which are completely inconsistent with a totally innocent man. Here are the highlights…
- After breaking his “100%” promise to sit down with Mueller, Trump meekly submitted written answers through his surely very nervous lawyers.
- We now apparently know that in those answers Trump laughably claims that he had no knowledge of the infamous Trump Tower meeting (why wouldn’t he be told about it if it was nearly as innocent as he claims it was?!) about which he and his son have already effectively admitted to having previously lied.
- As of dawn on Thursday, Trump has viciously and inappropriately attacked Mueller, a well-respected life-long Republican war hero, seven times on Twitter, even bizarrely retweeting an image of Mueller, and others connected to him, in prison.
- He has threatened Democrats with exceedingly un-presidential retribution if they dare to “harass” (investigate) him.
- We learned that Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman and a convicted felon, has been lying to Mueller, and his lawyer has apparently been providing Trump’s team with updates on what Mueller knows (which of course begs the question: Why would Trump’s team risk such a shady arrangement if they weren’t rightfully terrified that Mueller might know something really damaging?).
- Trump has, in an act so brazen it would have made even Richard Nixon blush, not only spoken off the record to a major, supposedly “Fake News!” newspaper about “helping” Manafort (a man convicted of multiple felonies by the federal government), but has, astonishingly, talked publicly about how he may still pardon him.
Obviously, none of this behavior is remotely consistent with an innocent man. In a rational world, if Trump was even a little secure in the innocence of himself and Don Jr., he would be thrilled that the entire liberal and media establishment has so embraced Mueller, that they’ve elevated him to superhero status. (I am convinced that many liberals are going to be crestfallen when they eventually learn that Mueller doesn’t actually wear a cape or an “S” on his chest.) Consequently, should Mueller find no serious malfeasance on the Trumps’ part, they would be effectively exonerated because the president’s critics have already provided Mueller with unassailable credibility.
While President Trump can be really dumb at times, he is also maybe the best media manipulator in history. There is no way that he wouldn’t see the value in having Mueller in that position if he had no reason to be legitimately fearful of the investigation. The fact that he has acted in quite the opposite manner speaks volumes.
Now, his “Cult 45” supporters will tell you, while sipping their Kool-Aid and reading Trump’s morning tweets, that Mueller is corrupt and that this investigation is a “witch hunt” out to get Trump as part of a “Deep State” conspiracy to avenge the 2016 election. Forgetting the reality that there is no actual evidence nor logic to support that fantasy, this view makes a critical and fundamental miscalculation about Trump’s circumstances.
Trump and his supporters like to pretend that, as if he is a normal person, the president is somehow vulnerable to being railroaded here for something he didn’t really do. But this is a rich and extremely famous man who is the president of the United States, who hired the people at the Justice Department who are in charge of the investigation, who has a personal lawyer who was once the “Man of the Year,” whose party currently controls all of Congress and the Supreme Court, and who has a huge “conservative” media industrial complex deeply invested in defending him no matter how guilty he may be.
Under these conditions, it’s not possible for Trump to be unfairly accused in a way that will make any substantive difference to him or his presidency. Consequently, it is also not logical to conclude he and his family could be completely innocent. We are really only waiting to find out exactly what they did and how damning the evidence is.
John Ziegler hosts a weekly podcast focusing on news media issues and is documentary filmmaker. You can follow him on Twitter at @ZigManFreud or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
[Image via Spencer Platt/Getty]
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.