Originally, the focus was on Thanksgiving. The Washington Post reported in mid-November that Ty Cobb, a leading member of Donald Trump's legal team, had painted an optimistic picture for his client, assuring the president that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's focus on the White House "would conclude by Thanksgiving,"
That, obviously, didn't happen, though it didn't shake Trump's confidence. The Washington Post went on to report in late-November that the president had "expressed certainty" that the investigation would end "by the end of the year," concluding with a presidential "exoneration." Of course, the end of the year is next week, and no one seriously believes Mueller's probe will end in six days.
And so, Trump World is apparently tweaking their first two failed predictions, with a new one that will probably be wrong, too. The Wall Street Journal reported overnight:
More recently, as Mr. Mueller's team secured indictments and guilty pleas, they have said the date could stretch to the end of January.In an interview Monday, Jay Sekulow, a member of the president's legal team, stood by the prediction that the part of the inquiry involving Mr. Trump would end soon. Still, he avoided any mention of specific dates."I know we, collectively, the lawyers, are looking forward to an expeditious wrapping up of this matter," Mr. Sekulow said.
So, for those keeping score, Trump was supposed to be in the clear by Thanksgiving, then by New Year's, and now by Jan. 31. And while I can appreciate the soothing qualities of wishful thinking, this appears to be a situation in which the president and his team are setting themselves up for more disappointment.
After all, the Washington Post reported just two weeks ago:
People with knowledge of the investigation said it could last at least another year -- pointing to ongoing cooperation from witnesses such as former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, as well as a possible trial of two former Trump campaign officials. The special counsel's office has continued to request new documents related to the campaign, and members of Mueller's team have told others they expect to be working through much of 2018, at a minimum.
Bloomberg Politics added, in reference to the Mueller investigation, that there's "no end in sight" for the probe that is "expected to continue well into" 2018.
I'd love to have a better sense of the behind-the-scenes dynamic. It's possible, for example, that Trump is optimistic about the looming end of the investigation because his lawyers keep feeding him dubious good news that he chooses to believe. In other words, perhaps they keep saying, "This will all be over very soon, Mr. President," to which a delighted Trump responds, "Sounds great."
But isn't there a point at which Trump gets annoyed by the blown deadlines? Won't there soon come a time when the president asks his legal team, "What about all that stuff you said about Thanksgiving and New Year's?"