I can’t blame President Trump for being angry about the Russia investigation. Aside from the revelations from Trump’s less-than-brilliant son, it has turned into a big nothing burger. Yet the special counsel will no doubt drag the investigation on for years, as such independent prosecutors are wont to do.
But almost all presidents since Jimmy Carter have faced special or independent counsel investigations. (President Obama was the exception, although not because he didn’t deserve to have one.) Yes, it stinks, but it is a feature of present-day Washington. Both parties encourage such investigations when their side does not hold the White House. It is a relatively low-cost method of harassing the president, and it allows the opposition to score cheap political points.
There is a way that Trump can fight back.
However, it’s not by firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions or Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Many other commentators have ably defended Sessions, so there is no need to do that here. Rather, Trump should look at history and realize that the last president to fire his attorney general didn’t finish his term in office. The Saturday Night Massacre was the first nail in the corrupt Richard Nixon’s coffin.
Instead, Trump should take a page from Bill Clinton. President Clinton had no compunction about sending out his attack dogs, most notably James Carville, to attack the independent counsel, Ken Starr, after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke. And, by many accounts, it was effective.
Trump needs his own James Carville, and undoubtedly there are plenty of people willing to take on that role for him. Whoever that person may be, Mueller has given him or her plenty to work with by appointing seven people to his staff who have donated exclusively to Democrats.
This strategy may be cynical, but if it was okay for a Democratic president to use it, there is no reason a Republican one can’t. Turnabout is fair play.