President Donald Trump says that he has chosen to stay out of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation — but he claimed that he is “totally allowed” to be involved in the probe and could even “run it.”
“I’ve decided to stay out,” Trump said in an interview with Reuters published Monday. “Now, I don’t have to stay out. I can go in and I could do whatever. I could run it if I want.
“I’m totally allowed to be involved if I wanted to be. So far, I haven’t chosen to be involved. I’ll stay out,” Trump said.
I’m not altogether sure what the president meant – or more to the point, what the president thinks he meant – but his sentiment sounded an awful lot like the memo Trump’s legal defense team sent to Mueller in January, which the New York Times obtained and published.
As regular readers may recall, it was in this memo that the president’s lawyers argued that Trump not only can’t obstruct justice, but he also can’t be subpoenaed or charged. A president, they insisted, has “exclusive authority over the ultimate conduct and disposition of all criminal investigations and over those executive branch officials responsible for conducting those investigations.”
In these attorneys’ vision, the president is effectively above the law, capable of dictating the terms, scope, and duration of any federal investigation, for any reason and at any time.
As far as Trump World is concerned, the legal system is the president’s system. Mueller may be leading an investigation, but it’s actually Trump’s investigation.
Eight months later, it appears the president has bought into his lawyers’ argument. Given the suspect reliability of Trump’s legal team, that have been an unwise choice.