BOSTON (CBS) – What political impact will the Mueller report have?
Initially, not much, I suspect, unless Congressional Democrats overrule Nancy Pelosi and decide impeachment proceedings are a good political strategy.
Attorney General William Barr may be a short-term casualty. He shredded what was left of his reputation by grossly misrepresenting the report’s contents. Some Democrats are already calling for his resignation.
Erstwhile Trump operative Corey Lewandowski may not be able to tout his closeness with the president to clients for much longer. The report discloses that Mr. Trump asked Lewandowski to lean on then-AG Jeff Sessions to publicly exculpate him, but Corey failed to do so after telling the president he’d take care of it. Naughty boy.
But the fact is, voter opinions of Donald Trump are baked firmly into the cake. About 40-percent of us “strongly disapprove” of him. Roughly 25-percent “strongly approve.” Outside of the five-percent or so who apparently live without access to news or interest in it and “don’t know” what they think of him, that leaves about 30-percent of the electorate that may be up for grabs in November 2020.
That is eighteen months away, ample time for intervening events to obscure the president’s political and managerial incompetence, legal ignorance, and self-serving egomania.
However, the Mueller report is full of detail which the president’s critics and challengers can and will use in the countless hearings and attack ads to come to turn the 30-percent against him.
Read: The Mueller Report
You should read the report yourself to get the full scope of that material, but just the executive summary to volume two – “Factual Results of the Obstruction Investigation” – will give you a representative taste of it.
Why does the president to this day insist, against overwhelming evidence, that the extent of Russian interference in the 2016 is at best overstated and, at worst, false sour grapes from the Democrats? “After the election, the President expressed concerns to advisors that reports of Russia’s election interference might lead the public to question the legitimacy of his election,” writes Mueller.
You’ve been presented with irrefutable proof of what the Russians did, you’re sure you were un-involved in any collusion with them, and it’s clear from the polls that a strong majority of Americans are angry over what they tried to pull. And yet your focus is how your critics might use it to taint your big triumph?
“The President reacted to news that a Special Counsel had been appointed by telling advisors that it was “the end of his presidency.” Not the reaction of an innocent man, and again, it’s all about me, me me, never the harm done to the nation.
“In early 2018, the press reported that the President had directed (White House counsel Don) McGahn to have the Special Counsel removed in June 2017 and that McGahn had threatened to resign rather than carry out the order. The President reacted to the news stories by directing White House officials to tell McGahn to dispute the story and create a record stating he had not been ordered to have the Special Counsel removed.”
McGahn refused, but consider the portrait this episode and many more in the report paint of the president: egocentric, overmatched, fundamentally-dishonest, repeatedly ignored/subverted by his own hand-picked lawyers and aides.
Will that imagery, hammered home by the President’s adversaries over the coming year-and-a-half, hamper his effort to reconstitute his winning electoral coalition?
Let’s just say it’s hard to see how it will be a plus.