Reading Between the Tweets

Let’s review. Over the past few days, Trump has launched multiple missives on Twitter obviously designed to force Jeff Sessions to step down as Attorney-General, presumably to open a path leading to the firing of Bob Mueller.

Yesterday morning, Trump tweeted — out-of-the-blue — a ban on transgender people serving in the military. Also yesterday, the Trump/Sessions DOJ filed an amicus brief in a federal court taking the position that Title VII includes no protection against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. And the Administration announced yesterday that Sam Brownback, the Kansas governor known for his worship of neoliberalism and the right-wing Jesus, would be rescued from the mess he made of Kansas finances to become an Ambassador at Large for religious freedom.

Are all of these developments linked? I’d say yes, to a degree. Consider the situation from Trump’s point of view. First, Bob Mueller’s hounds must be closing in. Trump clearly believes the Mueller investigation poses a threat somehow, and my bet is that it’s all about money — specifically, deals Trump and his family have done over many years with Russian oligarchs. Trump must suspect, or maybe he knows, that Mueller already has access to those infamous Trump tax returns and has been perusing them. What to do? What to do?

The tempting answer is to have Mueller fired. Sessions won’t do that. Hence the tweets trying to force a Sessions resignation. A new Attorney-General, pliable but not involved in the campaign or the early months of the Trump Presidency, could fire Mueller. No need for a recusal.

Of course, there are multiple stumbling blocks here. The likelihood that Trump could have Mueller fired without provoking impeachment proceedings is not through the roof. Senator Lindsey Graham said today that firing Mueller could bring about the end of the Trump Presidency.

And then there’s the problem of getting a new AG confirmed by a Senate very protective of former Club member Sessions. Trump, we know, has been turning over the idea of a recess appointment, which would bypass Senate confirmation, but a recess appointment requires a Senate adjournment, and it’s pretty much a slam dunk that the Democrats and even many Republicans would see to it that no adjournment occurred in the next few months.

In all of this, Trump has only the refuge now of his truly hardcore base. The establishment GOP abhors him and values him only for his bill-signing hand. He’s alienated many, many independents, I’d guess, and at least a substantial fraction of his lunch-bucket GOP support in places like Michigan and Pennsylvania, now that his grand talk of a new golden era of US manufacturing jobs has been revealed for the con that it always was. What’s left? The Religious Right.

Trump consistently has withheld his venom with respect to Putin and the Religious Right. And the Religious Right will be with him until the end. And they vote. They have outsized influence in the Republican primaries because they vote in high percentages. However all this plays out, Trump is counting on his congregation, amen, to be there to shield him, at least in part, from the winds that will blow. His tweet on transgender people in the military; his appointment of Brownback as an Ambassador at Large for religious freedom; and the DOJ brief on Title VII all work to endear him further to the Religious Right.

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