Is Trump About to Lash Out?
Is Trump About to Lash Out?
Spicer Quits; Legal Team Shaken Up
The journalistic and legal drumbeats tormenting President Trump are continuing to intensify, and there are signs in Washington today that the president is about to make a desperate attempt to silence them.
Shortly before noon, reports surfaced that Sean Spicer, the president’s embattled and often lampooned press secretary, has resigned in a dispute over Trump’s appointment of New York financier Anthony Scaramucci to serve as White House communications director, a position that would make him Spicer’s boss.
Trump also is shaking up his outside legal team. NBC reports that Marc Kasowitz, Trump’s longtime personal attorney, is no longer leading the legal team but is remaining available “to provide guidance” to other lawyers advising the president on the investigations mushrooming around him. Mark Corallo, who had been serving as media spokesman for the legal team, also confirmed that he’s moving on.
The changes follow Wednesday’s New York Times interview in which Trump publicly rebuked Attorney General Jeff Sessions, one of his earliest and most loyal political supporters, and Thursday’s Washington Post report that Trump has asked his legal team for information about his power to issue pardons that would spare members of his family, associates and perhaps himself from criminal prosecution.
There also are continued hints that Trump is considering firing Robert Mueller, the former FBI director now leading an investigation of Russia’s attempts to disrupt last year’s election and the potential involvement of Trump’s campaign in the Russian effort. In Wednesday’s Times interview, Trump warned that Mueller would cross “a red line” if he broadens the Russia investigation to examine the finances of the president’s business empire.
Mueller is operating under a charter from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, another target of Trump’s ire. As special counsel, Mueller has authority to pursue any leads that grow out of his investigation of Russia’s election meddling; the charter also specifies that only the deputy attorney general can fire the special counsel, a factor that probably would force Trump to fire Rosenstein and appoint a replacement willing to dispatch Mueller.
The president and Trump loyalists including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway have been engaged for several days in a public relations campaign designed to undercut Mueller. Among other things, they complain that the special counsel has hired an investigative team laden with people who’ve contributed to Hillary Clinton and other Democrats and that Mueller is personally close to James Comey, who Trump dismissed as FBI director in April.