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Trump's aggressive attempt to define the final Mueller game



And Trump's move – released Wednesday in an interview with The New York Post – is more than just a show of mercy to a former associate. This is the latest sign of an increasingly aggressive effort to define the end of the investigation with what looks more and more like an effort to use its presidential power to protect itself.

Trump's latest maneuvers took place in the midst of indications that the Mueller team, after an interruption of the mid-term election season, was preparing for a turning point in an investigation that threw a shadow on the Trump presidency.

As always with the President, it is difficult to determine whether his words represent a clear intention to act or whether it is about a volatile personality venting in a way that does not meet accepted standards for a person who may be legally threatened.

Trump has rallied the hostilities with Mueller after several days of major investigations and alarming signs indicate that his nerves are more and more collapsed in the face of what might happen next.

Among these developments is the revelation that Trump told Mueller, in his written responses to questions from the special council, that former political adviser Roger Stone had not told him about WikiLeaks. Trump also wrote that he had not been informed of the meeting of his son and campaigners with a Russian lawyer promising to dirty Hillary Clinton, according to the source, according to two sources close to the case.
When asked in the Post's interview about the possibility of forgiveness for Manafort, who led his campaign at a key stage in 2016, Trump said that "this has never been discussed, but I would not remove it, why would I take it off the table? "

Trump also warned Democrats, who will take control of the House in January, that he could use his unique powers as president to target them by declassifying security information that would be harmful to them.

"If they want to play hard, I will do it," Trump told the Post, referring to documents relating to the early stages of the investigation into Russia.

"They will see how devastating these pages are."

As a sign of what the President had in mind throughout the day, it began and ended Wednesday with tweets about the Mueller investigation.

"There is so much going on with the now discredited witch hunt, this total hoax will be studied for years!" Trump tweeted at 11:39 pm Wednesday – exactly 15 hours after the first tweet on the issue of the special advocate.

What's behind the timing of Trump?

The timing of Trump's climbing is intriguing.

This occurred a day after the breakdown of the cooperation agreement between Manafort and Mueller, accused of having lied several times by the special advocate. This news also brought revelation that Manafort's defense had provided detailed information on the investigation to Trump's lawyers.

In a flurry of tweets and provocative attacks, Trump also accuses Mueller of trying to force three key players – who appear to be Manafort, Stone and his partner Jerome Corsi – to lie or go to jail.

This week, Corsi claimed to have refused a plea deal with Mueller. Stone and he are currently under investigation for alleged links to WikiLeaks, which has released pirated Clinton Campaign emails stolen by Russian spies and is viewed by US intelligence as a front for a hostile foreign state.

Trump's comments about the three men appeared as a resounding message to stay firm and challenge Mueller's investigators, as well as any pressure to cooperate.

They will certainly raise issues in his confrontation with the special council and are likely to trigger an important political reaction from Democrats on the verge of seizing the House, lighting a fire under Trump's congressional oversight.

On Tuesday, to illustrate the potential political consequences of Trump's later remarks, the new chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the House issued a warning to the President.

"I suspect they're being forgiven in front of Manafort," Erin Burnett told Jerry Nadler, a Democrat from New York.

"But the president should understand that even asking for a pardon in front of a witness like Manafort is dangerously close to the obstruction of justice and would only reinforce a complaint or charge of obstructing justice against the president. "

One could argue that Trump's comments only serve as a reminder that he reserves the right to exercise the power of grace granted to each president under the Constitution.

To argue that Trump had obstructed justice, Mueller should show that the president had acted with intent to bribe.

If he's going in that direction, it's possible that Trump's Wednesday remarks will fit into a similar set of evidence, including his apparent claim that FBI director James Comey is offering a break to his former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. his explanation to the camera that he subsequently shot at Comey for the investigation of Russia, which Comey was then supervising.

"The complication of the past 24 hours with the Manafort plea agreement having imploded, has almost laid the groundwork for a circumstantial case of obstruction," said Harry Litman, former Deputy Attorney General, in Brooke. Baldwin, CNN.

"Any forgiveness now would seem to be a reward for Manafort for an extraordinary type of double-prosecutor who promised to be truthful and who would not be, and then forward information to Trump – which I would not know tell you how amazing it is. "

Read the spirit of Manafort

Manafort's motives for allegedly lying to Mueller are also crucial.

CNN analyst Susan Hennessey, a former senior lawyer with the National Security Agency, said there were only two possibilities.

"Either it's incredibly stupid and pathological to lie to investigators after entering into a plea agreement or it's kind of a request for forgiveness," Hennessey said in "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer".

Whatever the motivations of Manafort and the president, one thing is clear: Trump begins to be absorbed by the prospect of Mueller's findings, tweeting uncontrolled attacks in the morning and returning to his concerns as the day unfolds in about thirty minutes. # 39; interviews.

In a sign of the president's agitation, he took a page from a propagandist's playbook, retweeting a montage showing former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton as well as other senior officials behind the scenes. bars.

"When are the treason trials starting?" read a slogan on the chart.

He told the post that he knew that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was in the picture, commenting: "He should never have chosen a special counsel".

In the same interview, Trump denounced the plea negotiations.

"If you tell the truth, you go to prison," he told the Post Office. This effectively equates to an attack by the law enforcement official in the country on a legally mandated investigation.

"You know this thing is terrible," said Trump. "You go back and lie and you get – prosecutors will tell you 99% of the time they can tip people around – it's rare that they can not."

The president's latest attempts to discredit Mueller, being part of a strategy apparently designed to shape the political battlefield in anticipation of possible special council conclusions, came just weeks after Trump installed the skeptic of the 39, Mueller investigation, Matt Whitaker, as Acting Attorney General.

This decision potentially opened a clear channel in the investigation for the President, which could in itself explain his increased concern with the investigation.

Obvious signs indicate that the Mueller team is intensifying its activity.

His attorneys are looking at the written answers to their questions that Trump has submitted through his lawyers. They also pledged to file a case in court detailing Manafort's "crimes and lies", which could offer unpublished details of the investigation.

In addition to their interest in Corsi and Stone, Mueller's attorneys met with Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen this month.

There is more and more speculation on a new round of looming indictments that could come closer and closer to Trump's restricted circle.

Dana Bash from CNN contributed to this report.


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