In a kind of Bizarro World version of the “deep state,” behind-the-scenes conspiracy theories that right-wing tinfoil hat wearers have become obsessed with, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is meeting secretly with Trump aides and Congressional supporters to outline his plan to cripple the Mueller investigation and save the Trump presidency from the dustbin of history, according to a report tonight in The Washington Post.
Bannon, who left the White House on less than friendly terms last August after he was deemed responsible for inspiring President Trump’s comments that “many sides” were to blame for the violence at the alt-right riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, is reportedly advising Trump through third-party intermediaries to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s supervisor, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and cease cooperation with Mueller’s investigation, according to four people who told the Post about the conversations.
The white nationalist provocateur wants Trump to retroactively invoke executive privilege over all of the interviews his White House Staff have voluntarily provided to Mueller, claiming that such a move would render their testimony “null and void.” He also wants Trump to fire his attorney Ty Cobb who has urged the president to cooperate fully with the investigation, although such a move would leave Trump’s already decimated legal team virtually decapitated.
“The president wasn’t fully briefed by his lawyers on the implications” of not invoking executive privilege, Bannon told The Washington Post in an interview Wednesday. “It was a strategic mistake to turn over everything without due process, and executive privilege should be exerted immediately and retroactively.”
While Bannon’s cabal of White House advisors and toadying Congressmen may be brewing up their plans in secret meetings, there is no guarantee that Trump will accept the push for Bannon’s strategy given the now-rocky relationship between the two men.
“If you say his name in front of the president, it’s not a pretty sight,” said a senior administration official. “The president really goes off about him.”
Indeed, after saying that Bannon had “lost his mind” once he left the White House, Trump may not be eager to be seen bringing the king of the lunatic fringe back into the Oval Office.
Given that Bannon’s grand plan reportedly includes firing Mueller, shutting down the investigation and the grand jury, and handing the investigation back over to a Republican-controlled Congress that has already proven willing to say or do anything to protect the President, it’s uncertain how Trump might react.
While it’s undeniable that Trump would love to heed the words that Bannon is advocating, if he were to actually take those steps, the unforeseen consequences could spiral out of his control. Mass resignations could be expected at the Justice Department and the FBI if he fires Rosenstein and Mueller, and hundreds of thousands of Americans have signed online pledges to take to the streets if that eventuality ever materializes.
The president also can’t forget that with the midterm elections coming, the Republican control of Congress faces its most serious challenge ever, and a Democratic-led investigation in the second half of his term will surely pick up exactly where Mueller left off.
If Trump ignores the rational advice of his dwindling legal team and does what Bannon is urging, the constitutional crisis that would result would eclipse Watergate in its impact, with charges of obstruction of justice sure to be flung in the president’s face.
But for a neo-fascist like Bannon whose stated goal had always been to destroy the established order, it would be the achievement of a long-term dream.
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