Friday, February 2, 2018

Is Donald Trump considering taking the 5th?

“No person shall….. be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself,..”  The 5th Amendment of the Constitution.
There is speculation on Morning Joe this morning that the game President Trump , Rep. Devin Nunes, and Speaker  Paul Ryan, are playing is to try to damage the FBI so badly, the President could even take the 5th if he is forced to be interviewed by the special prosecutor’s office.
Those who take the 5th only do so at their own peril since that is sometimes believed  by the public as an admission of  guilt. It is a risky move.  However, there are also other risky  moves: firing Special  Prosecutor  Robert  Mueller, for one, and even being interviewed by Mueller is another. By taking the 5th, Donald Trump might even be able to survive impeachment attempts if he can damage the FBI’s credibility enough.
With steps   recently  to  damage and discredit the FBI engineered by the White House, Trump’s  favored media, and loyal members of Congress, taking the 5th makes as much sense as a  strategy of  just  drumming up pretexts to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Mueller.    I can see how this could  play out.  At the point Donald Trump takes the 5th if he is issued a Grand Jury subpoena,or refuses to be “interviewed” by the Special Counsel Robert Mueller , Mueller could release his report to the public without Trump’s interview/testimony  with enough  credible details that the case will be in the hands of voters in time for the November midterms.  The court of public opinion would become  the jury and vote, throwing the House  into the hands of a Democratic majority..  Trump would then be counting on his core base who will stand by their man as his firewall against a Senate vote to convict.  The House of Representatives can impeach, similar to an indictment, the Senate holds the trial, and  if a vote of two thirds of the Senate convicts, the President is removed from office. While the  GOP is the majority in the House, an impeachment process is likely not to begin, regardless of the Special Counsel’s report..
One  of the strategy  friends of the  Trump administration  have employed  to  damage the FBI’s credibility as been  to gin up  a case of anti Trump text messages between Agent  Peter Strzok and his girlfriend, but Strzok was removed from the investigation last summer. Another strategy is to paint Deputy AG Rod  Rosenstein as "not on his team". The pitch is the Strzok case is evidence every other FBI agent is politically corrupted.  The Nunes memo has been in the process  for some weeks  as another try   to paint  Rosenstein and the FBI as being  so inept , they  relied  solely on the Steele Dossier  in renewing a FISA warrant.  That would the justification for  removing Rosenstein  because of competence  and the FBI would be given another black eye.
If the Trump strategy  has been  try to fire Rod Rosenstein,  the Deputy Attorney General  who has the  power to fire Mueller,  and replacing him with a loyalist,   he may be having second thoughts.   There are enough members of the GOP in the Senate who have let  it be  known that  firing Mueller would lead to impeachment and conviction. Firing Rosenstein would  raise serious alarm bells., The Trump administration and Ryan have piously, deceptively contended that Nunes’ memo has nothing to do with the Russian investigation. Even House Majority Leader Paul Ryan yesterday said he had confidence in Rosenstein and Mueller, while backing up the release of the Nunes memo.

The  current issue before the White House is  how or whether Donald Trump should be “interviewed” by  Special Counsel Robert Mueller, under oath,  or not under oath, or under subpoena before the Grand Jury.  His verbosity, his record of bald face lying,  and lack of understanding of  the difference between punching back and obstruction of justice  has his legal team worrying he will commit perjury.   Mueller’s representatives and the White House are negotiating now when and how he will speak to Mueller. That explains, too,  why   the Trump media hypes  the line that Trump’s legal team  fears  he will walk into a “perjury trap”.  A perjury trap is challengeable because that refers to a  defined disallowed technique interrogators could use to trick him to lie and experienced prosecutors will not go there. Mueller is if anything one of the most experienced prosecutors in the US.

The irony of this is that the FBI and Director James Comey violated FBI rules to announce Hillary Clinton was under investigation for possible criminal abuse of classified documents in her emails. He did it twice, once just ten days before the 2016 election. Her poll numbers dipped and many believe that led to  her defeat.  What has also come to light that whatever Peter Strzok’s feelings about Hillary Clinton, he drafted the memo used by Comey to make those fatal disclosures that resulted in Trump’s win.  If the FBI was so slanted toward the Democrats and they were full of agents also inclined, they certainly did not act like it in 2016.

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