President Donald Trump threatened to file an expansive series of lawsuits aimed at various people involved in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s long-running probe into Russian-based electoral interference, corruption and obstruction of justice. As is typical of the Trump White House, those threats were issued during an early Tuesday morning Twitter screed.
“These were Mueller prosecutors, and the whole Mueller investigation was illegally set up based on a phony and now fully discredited Fake Dossier, lying and forging documents to the FISA Court, and many other things,” Trump tweeted. “Everything having to do with this fraudulent investigation is badly tainted and, in my opinion, should be thrown out.”
The impetus for Trump’s latest salvoes of digital scorn? The still-unfolding drama surrounding the guilty verdict and sentencing of Trump’s longtime friend and political advisor Roger Stone.
Briefly: Stone was recently convicted of seven felonies—including lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction of justice during the Mueller probe; he was then meted out a harsh sentencing recommendation by career Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys who asked for a 7- to 9-year sentence; Trump and Attorney General William Barr quickly intervened to rewrite that sentencing recommendation—prompting a mass exodus of those same attorneys and an unheard of dressing-down from the judiciary itself.
In turn, Barr and others complained about Trump saying the quiet part loud—effectively lodging complaints that many interpreted as Barr simply performing kayfabe disagreement with his boss in order to keep the conspiracies and special treatment for Trump partisans and other conservatives going without the appearance of impropriety getting in the way. Similar recriminations from all sides have followed up until the present—with Trump now going off-message again and keeping the DOJ/Barr controversy very much alive.
Uncorralled by the media’s criticism and entreaties—even by a small minority of those in his own party—to respect tradition and norms, Trump has decided to tweet right through it all: “The whole deal was a total SCAM. If I wasn’t President, I’d be suing everyone all over the place. BUT MAYBE I STILL WILL. WITCH HUNT!”
Former federal prosecutor and former MSNBC/NBC News legal analyst, Pace Law scholar and Westchester County District Attorney candidate Mimi Rocah reacted to Trump’s latest comments with derision and scorn.
“President Trump is completely out of control with his attack on the justice system and career prosecutors for his own political and personal purposes,” she told Law&Crime via email. “It’s been this way for a while but its reached new heights as institutions refuse to buckle under him—like a grand jury not indicting McCabe, prosecutors resigning or withdrawing when asked to do things against their ethical duty,” she added, referencing the DOJ’s recent decision to let former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) deputy director Andrew McCabe off the hook—despite widespread concern that he lied (“lacked candor”) when speaking with federal investigators.
Rocah continued—painting Trump’s Tuesday morning tantrum as a gasp of transparent and selective outrage with increasingly diminishing utility.
”People see it, former DOJ officials see it and the federal judiciary sees it,” she noted. “Trump’s statements about Mueller and the prosecutors and the origins of an investigation that was completely legitimate and authorized are just lies and smears.”
The onetime Southern District of New York assistant U.S. attorney was also unforgiving of Barr’s proactive role in the spiraling storyline:
If we had a real Attorney General who actually cared about impartial justice he would speak out about this and stand up for Mueller and the Special Counsel investigation and the prosecutors. But we obviously don’t have that. I hope Congress and the DOJ Inspector General recognize how dangerous and aberrant Barr’s actions are in enabling this.
Noted ant-Trump critic, Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, also weighed in—accusing Trump of crass hypocrisy by threatening legal action in light of the 45th president’s decidedly mercurial approach to abiding by the law itself.
“For someone with no regard for the rule of law, Trump sure is enamored of invoking the law almost as often as he lies,” Tribe said in an email. “To him, it apparently makes no difference at all whether his lawsuits have even a smidgen of merit. He knows he can wear many litigants down just by making threats. When someone calls his bluff, he often folds. He is, in short, a serial abuser of the legal system just as he has become a serial abuser of the presidential power with which he was sadly entrusted.”
National security attorney Bradley P. Moss wrapped it all up with a bow. He said, via email: “[Trump] is free to waste his money but nothing is going to happen. The same immunity that protects him will protect the individuals on the Mueller team.”
[image via NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images]