The time for honouring yourself will soon be at an end.
Maximus to Commodus, Gladiator
A great day for democracy! Journalists and pundits, straining to live up to their role as honest and disinterested observers, have been pointing out today that Andrew McCabe probably did cross a line during the 2016 election campaign, leaking to the press the rationale for part of the ongoing investigations into the Clintons, when the release of such details, or even acknowledging the existence of an investigation at all, are against FBI protocol (somebody should have told James Comey!). Apparently, he may have been less than truthful about it when questioned during an internal investigation. McCabe disputes this, but in another context a case for his dismissal might well be honourably made.
This being the handiwork of Trump and his henchmen, there is of course no honour anywhere in evidence. The Donald has always resented McCabe for his supposed Democratic sympathies – farcically, since the purported root cause for his dismissal is behaviour that did grievous damage to the Clinton campaign – and for his loyalty to James Comey. Fearful of the testimony he might give about the circumstances of Comey’s firing, Trump has long been eager to destroy McCabe’s credibility, perhaps imagining there remains somebody on Earth who hasn’t already concluded that getting rid of the FBI Director was a naked obstruction of justice.
In any case, firing the man just hours before his retirement will deprive him of the pension he earned over two decades of generally unimpeachable public service. That’s the real object of the exercise. Jeff Sessions, perhaps eager to keep his own head off the chopping block, was only too pleased to do the dirty work, though it strains credulity to imagine that Sessions actually believes he isn’t in for the same fate anyway, sooner or later. The Donald holds tight to his grudges. Rotten prick that he is, he can never forgive Sessions for recusing himself from decisions involving the Russia investigation, a recusal which, ironically, Sessions probably violated by taking part in McCabe’s public execution. Maybe McMaster is next, but Jefferson Beauregard’s turn is probably just around the corner – it has to be, if Trump is to fire Mueller. Rod Rosenstein, in the hot seat once his boss recused himself, has made it obvious he won’t do it. Somebody has to take over for Sessions so that Rosenstein can be taken out of the loop.
Maybe after that, General Kelly can go to the wall, and the purge of the supposed adult supervisors can come closer to full fruition. There’s still Mattis over at Defence, for now, keeping his head down. He’s got his own problems, having served on the board of an entirely fraudulent company, but nobody wants to make much of an issue out of that at this point, it being the perception that Mattis is the only thing stopping Donald from literally blowing up the world. Maybe Mattis can hang on for a while longer, who can say, really? Maybe he even feels duty-bound to keep reporting for work. In the end, though, Donald gets bored with everybody. Even Jared Kushner is thought to be on the verge of exile – pity, that, he was so close to bringing peace to the Middle East – and nobody can possibly believe any longer that anybody is safe. It’s a wonder if Donald can keep filling the vacancies he creates.
Oh, how he loves to create them! Trump is such a godawful sonofabitch in his gleeful terminations that he even made people feel sorry for Rex Tillerson, a truly terrible Secretary of State whose main accomplishment, before he was fired via Twitter, was doing perhaps irreparable damage to America’s diplomatic apparatus – that, and calling Trump a “fucking moron” out loud, bless his grey old head and creaky old bones.
I’m coming around to the view that if firing Mueller is the end game, more power to Trump. Whatever the Special Counsel can prove, and I’m betting he can prove plenty, it’s an open question whether Trump, as a sitting President, can even be indicted (does anybody want to count on the integrity of the stacked Supreme Court when it comes to this bit of Constitution interpretation?), and Trump would doubtless survive any attempt at impeachment – supposing there’s a Democratic House to vote for one come the November mid-terms – if all they’ve got is incontrovertible proof of decades of money laundering for the Russian Mob, and helping Putin rig the election. For impeachment purposes, that stuff has already been sufficiently proved, or could be, if Congress was willing to do its job. As things stand, nobody thinks for a second that the legislative branch, as currently constituted, is going to step up. They’re fully in Trump’s thrall. That’s why the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee peremptorily folded up its tent and claimed see no evil; they’re determined to save Donald’s bacon, and nothing we already know, plainly, will ever impel them to do right by the Constitution.
No, unless the Republican Party is entirely wiped off the face of the Earth in both the House and Senate, what we have now will never amount to enough to toss Trump out on his fat ass. What we need now is a good, old-fashioned, initial caps Constitutional Crisis to bring this business to a head. Something so dire that even the Republicans can’t pretend that everything’s A-OK. Firing Mueller might just get us there.
Or maybe nothing will do the trick, at least nothing that ought to. Maybe what finally brings Trump down will be his adulterous dealings with a porn star, and God knows how many like her, all paid and perhaps otherwise coerced into shutting up about Donald’s innumerable unsavoury sexual exploits. There’s bound to be something illegal, perhaps involving violation of campaign finance laws, or unlawful extortion, amid all the disgusting details. Maybe what we need is for Trump to be shown not merely to be corrupt, crude, stupid and vindictive, but positively silly. Maybe some picture of Donald in his skivvies, all gross and saggy, will leak out. Maybe somebody has him whining and snivelling on tape, something even more embarrassing than the Access Hollywood stuff that somehow wasn’t enough to kill his campaign – something that makes him sound not just awful, but weak. Something that strips away his phony-balony strongman veneer.
Or maybe Putin will eventually figure that Trump has served his purpose, and spill the beans on whatever it is he has on the idiot. Something has to happen. This can’t go on.
As for Mr. McCabe, I hope there’s some legal recourse through which he might yet secure his pension, and if so I hope good lawyers are lining up to take his case pro bono. Failing that, I think he should do as my wife suggests, and start a GoFundMe campaign to crowdsource a retirement nest-egg. We’ll kick in the first hundred bucks, in a heartbeat. Meanwhile, I hope he can draw some comfort from voices that matter a lot more than mine: