Reality check: Sessions can't end Mueller probe

CNN's John Avlon looks at President Trump's recent tweet calling for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Posted: Aug 3, 2018 9:13 AM
Updated: Aug 3, 2018 9:34 AM

For the first time, President Donald Trump has called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to personally step in and end what he calls the "rigged witch hunt" -- the Russia investigation.

This is reality challenged on a number of levels.

First, it ignores a fact that has frustrated Trump since Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation back in March 2017: He can't end it. Only the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, can do it, and only for "misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or for other good cause." There is no evidence to show special counsel Robert Mueller is remotely guilty of any of that.

Second, explicitly calling on Sessions to end the investigation would certainly seem like an invitation to obstruction of justice; especially since, according to The New York Times, the Mueller team is looking at Trump's tweets for evidence of obstruction.

Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and the White House have said the President was merely expressing an opinion, not giving an order.

Of course, on a persistent schoolyard taunt level, the special counsel investigation is neither "rigged" nor a "witch hunt." But facts don't often deter this President from playing verbal offense. He's a master marketer trying to impose a new association on the investigation, so that his supporters will ignore the results no matter what they are.

Nonetheless, there's an increasingly desperate edge to his screaming "WITCH HUNT" at the special counsel. In fact, as the Russia investigation heats up, he uses it more and more. For example, he said it only three times on Twitter in May 2017 but 20 times in May 2018.

Trump, of course, is not the first president to cry "witch hunt." Witness Exhibit A, a Washington Post headline from late July 1973 blaring, "Nixon Sees 'Witch-Hunt,' Insiders Say." Just over a year later, Nixon left the White House in disgrace.

But neither party has a monopoly on virtue or vice, and new statistics say Democrats may have to revise one of their favorite rallying cries, that the Trump economy and the impact of his tax cuts haven't benefited Main Street. New data from the Labor Department shows that American workers, on average, just got their biggest raise in almost a decade in terms of wages and benefits. Whether this will outweigh rising consumer prices remains to be seen.

One final note. The Washington Post is out with its latest diagnosis of the truthfulness of Trump. As of Day 558 of his presidency, more than 4,200 of Trump's claims were determined to be "false or misleading." If you're doing the math at home, that's an average of 7.6 false or misleading claims a day. Many of those could just be called "lies."

And that's your Reality Check.

Terre Haute
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 41°
Robinson
Clear
44° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 44°
Indianapolis/Eagle Creek
Clear
42° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: °
Paris
Clear
41° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 37°
Mattoon/Charleston
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 41°
Terre Haute
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 41°
Terre Haute
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 22°
Feels Like: 41°
A Clear Night
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

All You Need to Know for Tuesday

Image

Severe Weather Preparedness Week for Illinois

Image

Rise in cases of child abuse and neglect

Image

Tuesday: Mostly sunny, cool. High: 47

Image

Two women facing charges in Capitol violence appear virtually for court

Image

Offering women the much needed care they deserve

Image

House passes stimulus bill

Image

Overnight: Clear and cold. Low: 22°

Image

Recent Trends in the Local Real Estate Market

Image

Dangers at Wallace Ave.

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1187757

Reported Deaths: 22759
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook4748859369
DuPage768711196
Will65092894
Lake59589923
Kane50800717
Winnebago28351440
Madison28026455
St. Clair25497467
McHenry24336265
Champaign18115126
Peoria16906262
Sangamon16152218
McLean14621157
Tazewell13538240
Rock Island13069286
Kankakee12502189
Kendall1107786
LaSalle10810219
Macon9461185
Vermilion8568116
DeKalb8276112
Adams8006114
Williamson6800121
Whiteside5930147
Boone592671
Clinton557189
Coles520391
Grundy512563
Ogle502173
Knox5018132
Jackson461160
Effingham449469
Macoupin435279
Henry433057
Marion4262111
Livingston420677
Franklin414666
Stephenson409875
Monroe406683
Jefferson3980115
Randolph396378
Woodford367960
Morgan358876
Montgomery350068
Lee335343
Logan330953
Bureau330873
Christian330568
Fayette306452
Perry305857
Fulton285344
Iroquois277161
Jersey249646
Douglas245033
McDonough232840
Lawrence230024
Saline229847
Union218537
Shelby214034
Crawford200723
Bond191024
Cass189022
Pike169250
Clark168630
Wayne167448
Hancock167229
Warren166444
Richland163538
White160925
Jo Daviess160522
Ford158745
Washington158423
Carroll157634
Edgar154337
Moultrie149424
Clay142941
Greene137932
Johnson134712
Piatt132814
Wabash130012
Mason128641
De Witt128022
Mercer128033
Massac127233
Cumberland119218
Jasper111017
Menard10388
Marshall83915
Hamilton78815
Schuyler6775
Pulaski6696
Brown6636
Stark54122
Edwards52310
Henderson49814
Calhoun4782
Scott4491
Alexander4488
Gallatin4374
Putnam4163
Hardin34512
Pope2823
Out of IL00
Unassigned02223

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 662213

Reported Deaths: 12595
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion907061645
Lake48425878
Allen35861636
Hamilton32099397
St. Joseph29996512
Elkhart25386415
Vanderburgh21247378
Tippecanoe20024201
Johnson16349360
Porter15975270
Hendricks15825300
Clark11965181
Madison11746318
Vigo11612229
Monroe10333161
Delaware9838179
LaPorte9772196
Howard9056197
Kosciusko8562110
Bartholomew7456147
Warrick7416151
Hancock7409131
Floyd7207169
Wayne6633191
Grant6427157
Morgan6092125
Boone609088
Dubois5910111
Dearborn547467
Cass544499
Marshall5425104
Henry542393
Noble509378
Jackson464767
Shelby460690
Lawrence4184112
Gibson401281
Harrison399864
Clinton395853
Montgomery387083
DeKalb385278
Knox357485
Miami357463
Whitley349436
Huntington344476
Steuben338355
Wabash331476
Putnam330559
Ripley327161
Adams323549
Jasper316143
White297352
Jefferson294973
Daviess285396
Fayette271956
Decatur270888
Greene261280
Posey260931
Wells258275
Scott250350
Clay241444
LaGrange240870
Randolph225576
Spencer217330
Jennings215244
Washington211227
Sullivan203439
Fountain201542
Starke188151
Owen182153
Fulton178237
Jay177828
Carroll176518
Perry173235
Orange171250
Rush164822
Vermillion160542
Franklin159435
Tipton146441
Parke139316
Pike127632
Blackford120627
Pulaski106444
Newton96531
Brown95039
Benton92013
Crawford90713
Martin80114
Warren75814
Switzerland7548
Union67110
Ohio53711
Unassigned0433