Amidst the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 campaign, the president has long clung to the claim that he himself was not under investigation and thus had done nothing wrong. This defense inevitably buckled under the weight that Trump himself put on it.
Ironically, it was Trump’s obsession with the question of his own personal guilt that may have led the obstruction of justice probe that is currently being led by special prosecutor Robert Mueller. Among other attempts to influence the Russia investigation, he asked James Comey to publicly declare that he was not under investigation, which Comey declined to do. Then Trump fired Comey and admitted he did it because of the Russia investigation, setting in motion a chain of events that resulted in him being ... investigated personally for obstruction of justice.
Furthermore, the obstruction of justice probe was likely made public after reports were leaked to the press that Trump was considering firing Mueller.
Trump characteristically seems to have learned nothing from any of this. On Thursday he took to Twitter and stuck to his usual script.
Trump’s argument here, if I’m following it correctly, is that he couldn’t obstruct justice because the thing he was obstructing wasn’t justice at all. But Trump takes it a step further, latching on to a right-wing media talking point that the Mueller probe is full of partisans set on bringing down Trump’s presidency. Raising the stakes in this way is part of what got Trump into this mess in the first place. Unsurprisingly, the allies he has left are playing along. Here’s Newt Gingrich echoing the president this morning:
This is especially rich coming from Gingrich, who cheered on Kenneth Starr’s investigation into Bill Clinton, which morphed from being about Whitewater and Vince Foster to being about Monica Lewinsky.
But really it’s yet more proof that Trump is Richard Nixon on steroids. Backed into a corner, his only argument is that he is one man against the world.