On Friday, the President called Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report “total bullsh*t” on Twitter.
Even though he also claimed that the report exonerates him, the President appears to undermine findings that cast his administration in a negative light.
The conservative publication The Bulwark was unsparing in its criticism of the president’s actions revealed by the Mueller probe, arguing that “The Mueller report reads like the indictment of a mob boss, not an investigation of a president.”
In a piece titled “Portrait of a Gangster,” the executive editor of The Bulwark, Jonathan V. Last, argues that regardless of the report’s conclusions on collusion and obstruction, it’s clear that Trump does not conduct himself as a President should.
“Leave aside the collusion, and the obstruction, and the legalism, and the intrigue, and one of the things the Mueller report makes clear is that Donald Trump conducts himself not as a commander in chief, but a mob boss,” Last writes.
Last runs down all the ways Trump functions as a gangster, like dispatching lower-level associates to “send messages” to officials who aren’t doing what the President wants, like James Comey and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Trump was also upset that former White House Special Counsel Don McGahn took notes in meetings.
“The President then asked, ‘What about these notes? Why do you take notes? Lawyers don’t take notes. I never had a lawyer who took notes.’ McGahn responded that he keeps notes because he is a “real lawyer” and explained that notes create a record and are not a bad thing (page 117).”
Then, there is the President’s tendency to try to sway witnesses.
“Let’s not get into legalisms about what is, and is not, criminally actionable witness tampering,” Last observes. “Instead, just look at the following examples of Trump’s interactions with people in his orbit and figure out if they seem more like Ronald Reagan or Tony Soprano.”
Last points to the President’s messages to Michael Flynn to stay strong as he was under investigation.
He notes that Manafort got a clear message from the President and told Rick Gates that
they were ‘going to take care of us’ — a potential reference to the President using his pardon power to free them if they got jail time.
He also notes that the President seems to view other offices in the executive branch as existing to do his personal bidding, not serve the office of the President. There’s the case of Jeff Sessions, who enraged the President by recusing himself in the Russia probe. But it didn’t stop there.
“Trump even views the heads of his intelligence agencies as his personal minions. He asked Dan Coats, then the director of the Office of National Intelligence, to publicly testify that there was no link between him and Russia (page 55),” Last says.
“He made a similar request of Michael Rogers, the director of the NSA, complaining about how hard the Russia investigation was making his life. NSA Deputy Director Richard Ledgett was present for this conversation and he was pretty freaked out because, again, none of this is even in the same ballpark as ‘normal.'”
Last but not least is the President directing Donald McGhan to get rid of Mueller. From the Mueller report:
McGahn was perturbed by the call and did not intend to act on the request. He and other advisors believed the asserted conflicts were “silly” and “not real,” and they had previously communicated that view to the President. McGahn also had made clear to the President that the White House Counsel’s Office should not be involved in any effort to press the issue of conflicts. . . .
When the President called McGahn a second time to follow up on the order to call the Department of Justice, McGahn recalled that the President was more direct, saying something like, “Call Rod, tell Rod that Mueller has conflicts and can’t be the Special Counsel.” McGahn recalled the President telling him “Mueller has to go” and “Call me back when you do it.” . . . To end the conversation with the President, McGahn left the President with the impression that McGahn would call Rosenstein. McGahn recalled that he had already said no to the President’s request and he was worn down, so he just wanted to get off the phone. (page 86)
“Just picture these last two scenes for a moment,” Last says. “Really picture it: Rogers and Ledgett staring at each other, incredulous at what the commander-in-chief was asking them to do. Don McGahn, sitting in his house, listening to the impossible demands of the president of the United States.”
“These are portraits of men who realize the government is being run by a gangster and do not have any idea what to do about it.”