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Rudy on a year of Mueller: We have a “Plan B” if he doesn’t end the Russiagate probe soon

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Is Plan B to go on “Hannity” and make a bunch of damaging admissions on his boss’s behalf?

Because that seems to have been the Plan B for Stormygate.

Plan B for Russiagate will probably involve Trump tweeting angrily for a few days and then doing nothing.

Trump and his lawyers are trying to set up the milestone on Thursday as a turning point in their campaign to end Mueller’s probe into Russian election meddling and obstruction of justice, Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, said Tuesday in an interview. While he isn’t threatening specific actions, Giuliani said they haven’t ruled out additional steps if Mueller doesn’t heed their calls.

“We are going to try as best we can to put the message out there that it has been a year, there has been no evidence presented of collusion or obstruction, and it is about time for them to end the investigation,” Giuliani said. “We don’t want to signal our action if this doesn’t work — we are going to hope they listen to us — but obviously we have a Plan B and C.”

Assuming he’s not just blowing smoke to try to intimidate Mueller (spoiler: he is), what might be a workable “Plan B”? Trump’s only options, really, are ordering Mueller’s firing or blowing up the probe by pardoning everyone involved, and those come with unspoken time constraints. There’s been chatter lately about Mueller “going dark” for the midterms if he doesn’t produce a report soon, at least on the obstruction question, but congressional Republicans are going to want Trump to “go dark” too as their fortunes improve on the generic ballot. The GOP’s mantra for the president will be “no sudden moves”: Let voters marinate in the good economic news with nothing to distract them. If Trump nukes Mueller, it’ll upend the midterm and probably not in a good way. His polling took a hit last May after he canned Comey and only fully recovered within the past month. Firing Mueller would be an order of magnitude more wrenching politically.

Here’s an outside-the-box Plan B: Imagine Trump announces on Thursday, the one-year anniversary of Mueller’s appointment, that he intends to dismiss the Special Counsel — but not immediately. Say, in 120 days. The probe’s gone on too long, he’ll say, it’s interfering with state business, a competent prosecutor should have gathered enough evidence by now to have formed a judgment on probable cause, etc etc. But, lest he be accused of trying to obstruct the probe, he’s going to be a sport and give Mueller an additional four months to wrap up his work on his own terms. He gets 16 months to produce whatever he’s going to produce. If he’s done by then, great; if not, he’ll have to transfer the prosecutions of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates back to the DOJ and close down the rest of his operations.

I wonder how the public would greet the delayed firing of Mueller. The idea of Trump canning him out of the blue is outrageous because it would reek of obstruction of justice. Trump feared that Mueller was on the verge of uncovering something hugely incriminating, his critics would theorize, so he nuked the probe. Obstruction doesn’t get any clearer. If Trump gives him a window to finish up, though, that argument is harder. Mueller would still have time to keep digging; Trump wouldn’t have given him an extension if he thought Mueller had real dirt on him. It’d still be obstruction, but the more persuasive Trump can be in framing his opposition to the probe in terms of how it’s hurting the *country*, i.e. as a distraction to the executive branch, rather than hurting him personally, the more palatable it’ll be to voters. A grace period for Mueller to finish up would help with that framing.

Although where would that leave Rod Rosenstein and Jeff Sessions? Would they announce in advance their intention to resign if Trump followed through by ordering them to fire Mueller? What if other DOJ officials announced their intention to quit too? Trump’s problem with a “delayed firing” is that his bluff would absolutely be called and he’d have no choice but to follow through for the sake of his own prestige. If you’re going to give a deadline as a momentous as this, you have to be utterly committed to enforcing it or you’ll look like a joke. But in this case, enforcing it could mean half the Justice Department walking out.

By the way, Paul Manafort lost his motion to dismiss Mueller’s charges against him today. He argued that Mueller exceeded his mandate as Special Counsel by indicting him for things that had nothing to do with collusion. The charges are close enough, said the court, citing the fact that Mueller was given authority to investigate any matters that arise “directly” from the basics of the Russia investigation. That’s a broad mandate, now judicially affirmed. Gotta be on POTUS’s mind!

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Lesley Stahl: Trump told me he attacks the media so that people won’t believe us when we report bad news about him

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I mean, obviously. A scandalized shiver runs through the room in the clip after Stahl says this but nothing about Trump is as transparent as his strategic goal in gaslighting people about “fake news.” Here’s something I’ve linked before, written two days after his inauguration and attempting to explain why Sean Spicer held that embarrassing “these were the biggest inauguration crowds ever!” press conference. Among the suggested reasons:

The point of carping about “fake news” isn’t to discredit the stories that are false, it’s to discredit the stories that are true. It’s the same as the “witch hunt” rhetoric about Russiagate, which has already produced five guilty pleas and 17 indictments. Any politician pinned to the wall by damaging news would kill to have a reservoir of suspicion about the media among their base that they can call on in a pinch to defuse that news. The goal isn’t necessarily to get people to disbelieve a story but to stoke enough doubt about the reliability of its narrators that the public will conclude there’s no way to know what’s truth and what isn’t. That’s the art of the gaslight. And the author I quoted above also anticipated that:

If ever there was a “tell” about Trump’s strategy, it was this tweet posted 17 days after he was sworn in. It’s one thing to claim that reporters are slanting their coverage to disfavor him, as that obviously does happen. It’s another to suggest that pollsters are engaged in willful fraud, en masse, to make him look bad by manipulating their data and willing to risk their professional reputations in doing so:

Everything that’s bad for him is “fake” and you shouldn’t believe it, and if you do you’re siding with Them over him. He’s not coy or in any way subtle about this. This is a guy, remember, who back in the day used to dial up reporters posing as his own PR flack to tout his wealth or his womanizing or whatever. Subtlety’s not his thing, certainly when dealing with the media. The reason there are murmurs in the room after Stahl tells her story, I think, is just because he’s willing to cop to the gaslighting openly, even to a member of the media itself. It’s all just a game, played to a strategic end. Why pretend otherwise?

In lieu of an exit question, something unrelated but fun. Apparently Trump’s inimitable Twitter style is, in fact, imitable:

“West Wing employees who draft proposed tweets intentionally employ suspect grammar and staccato syntax in order to mimic the president’s style, according to two people familiar with the process,” the Boston Globe’s Annie Linskey reports.

The details: “They overuse the exclamation point! They Capitalize random words for emphasis. Fragments. Loosely connected ideas. All part of a process that is not as spontaneous as Trump’s Twitter feed often appears.”

That’s GOP-style populism in microcosm. You’ve got one guy, the populist-in-chief, whose grammar and spelling are not the best but whose style is “authentic” and “relatable.” And then you’ve got a coterie of well-educated phonies and cronies mimicking him, pretending to be stupid in the same way because that’s what he wants and they’re convinced that that’s what the people want. No one has any incentive, political or financial, to be better. Sad!

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Trump Goes Scorched Earth on FBI Spy Campaign: ‘Follow the Money, the Spy Was Only There to Help Crooked Hillary Win’

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President Trump unleashed on the FBI’s infiltration of his campaign Tuesday evening in a pair of tweets.

The President said, “Follow the money!” the spy wasn’t there to find ‘Russian collusion,’ he was there to help Crooked Hillary win the election!

President Trump, please never stop tweeting!

President Trump lit up Twitter Tuesday evening after he tweeted what we are all thinking–the spies infiltrated his campaign for political purposes to help Hillary Clinton win the election.

Trump tweeted: If the person placed very early into my campaign wasn’t a SPY put there by the previous Administration for political purposes, how come such a seemingly massive amount of money was paid for services rendered – many times higher than normal…

Trump then slams Crooked Hillary: …Follow the money! The spy was there early in the campaign and yet never reported Collusion with Russia, because there was no Collusion. He was only there to spy for political reasons and to help Crooked Hillary win – just like they did to Bernie Sanders, who got duped!

The informant, Stefan Halper, was paid a total of $411,575 in 2016 and 2017 for work with the US government that included spying on the Trump campaign.

It was a lucrative business for Stefan Halper.

Now the Democrats are in spin mode.

They went from ‘there was no spy inside of Trump’s camp’ to ‘the informant was there to help protect Trump against the Russians.’

Former DNI Chief James Clapper is claiming embedding spies is “a standard investigative practice.”

Hillary Clinton wanted to spy on her political opponent and she accomplished her goal with help from Obama’s weaponized intel agencies.

President Trump is right; Spygate is worse than Watergate.

Earlier Tuesday, President Trump told reporters, “If they had spies in my campaign, that would be a disgrace to this country.”

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Shouldn’t Publix be forced to bake the Latin cake?

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Palette cleansers don’t usually come this sweet … if we’re still permitted to use that phraseology. A family celebrating the graduation of their son with high honors had ordered a cake made from the local Publix supermarket, using their online system to proudly display Jacob Kosinski’s status as a summa cum laude student. Just one problem, the online system responded — they don’t allow obscenities on their cake designs.

Shouldn’t they be forced to bake the Latin cake?

Cara Koscinski organized a graduation party for her 18-year-old son. For the occasion, she ordered a cake online from her nearest grocery store, Publix, which lets customers build their own cakes complete with a customized inscription, which they enter into a message box marked “cake message option.”

Carefully, she typed in the words she wanted on the cake: “Congrats Jacob! Summa Cum Laude class of 2018.”

Publix’s online system was unhappy with the word “cum.”

Good Lord. This is less about mandatory cake-baking than it is about cultural ignorance and classical illiteracy. We stopped teaching Latin as a compulsory subject in most schools decades ago, but this Latin phrasing in particular remains very common — used in all college and university graduations, and many high school degrees, too. Magna cum laude is understood by most people not to be a reference to a particular prophylactic, for Pete’s sake.

Publix apologized and returned the family’s money, which is as much as they can do for this particular error. It should remind them to pay attention to the special instructions in their own flippin’ system, however, especially when the customer calls to explain it to them in plain English. If Publix doesn’t want to make cakes for a particular special occasion or to proclaim a particular message, they shouldn’t be forced to do, and neither should anyone else. But is it too much to ask that they check out requests to ensure that they really object to it?

At least Jacob has a pretty clear understanding about the nonsensical levels of political correctness and ignorance he’ll encounter in the wider world. It might keep him more grounded than most other high school graduates entering colleges and universities this fall. In the meantime, let’s offer a Latin lesson for bakeries around the country, just in case they need to conjugate. In the language sense, that is.

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