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Bannon’s Russia probe cover-up plan would start two political civil wars

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Former chief White House strategist Stephen Bannon, exiled from President Trump’s inner circle, is apparently back with advice that aims to destroy the investigation of Russian crimes by special counsel Robert Mueller.

According to the story, Bannon proposed that Trump fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is a Republican, and stop all cooperation with Mueller, who is also a Republican, which would be a brazen attempt to dismember the investigation of the special counsel, which is nonpartisan.

Furthermore, the story alleges Bannon wants Trump to try to retroactively claim executive privilege and make all previous interviews between Trump associates and the special counsel’s office null and void.

{mosads}The alleged Bannon plan is designed to shift all investigation of the Russian attack against America to Congress, where Republicans, until the coming midterm elections, control both houses of Congress.


Even many Republican campaign managers would agree that Bannon’s ploy would be a political suicide pill for Republicans in Congress to swallow.  

Virtually all political observers believe that:

  • Republicans are poised to suffer dramatic losses in the midterm elections;
  • Robert Mueller is personally popular and respected by huge numbers of voters;
  • most voters want the Mueller investigation to continue unobstructed;
  • the Republican Congress is disapproved by a huge majority of voters;
  • Trump is the most unpopular president at this point in his term in the history of presidential polling; and
  • House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is only the latest in a long and growing list of GOP retirements from Congress.

If Trump follows Bannon’s advice, he would drop a political nuclear bomb on Republicans in the House of Representatives. They would be forced to destroy or defend Trump, who enjoys a fervent base but suffers from intense antipathy from the far larger number of voters who will stampede to the polls for Democrats in the midterm elections.

If Trump fires Mueller or Rosenstein, it would be the political equivalent of General Custer making his stand at the Little Bighorn.

In my Thursday column, I suggested that every living former president join forces and issue a joint public statement in support of Robert Mueller and the integrity and independence of the Department of Justice. 

I warned of the bitter divisions that would rip the country apart if Trump tries to execute a Nixon-like Saturday Night Massacre which in my view, he will soon.

If Trump does move against the Mueller investigation, execute a Saturday Night Massacre or follow Bannon’s apparent advice, he would set off two extreme political civil wars.

The first civil war would pit an enraged majority of voters, who would react with a firestorm of anger and protest to any attempt to destroy the Muller investigation, against Trump and all GOP allies in Congress who do not condemn and act against Trump at that time. 

If Trump drops the political nuclear bomb on House Republicans, voters will drop the nuclear option on Republicans in the midterms with anti-Trump turnout so huge that all previous midterm turnout records could be broken.

The second civil war would pit Republican against Republican in Congress and across the nation. Some Republicans would back Mueller and demand that his investigation proceeds. Other Republicans who would march in lockstep with Trump and be widely accused of backing a coverup of Russian crimes against America.   

House Republicans have already begun a fierce and potentially divisive battle to determine who will succeed Speaker Ryan in the next Congress, either as Speaker or minority leader if Democrats regain control, a possibility that will become even more likely if Trump follows the advice of those who suggest he fire Rosenstein or Mueller.

Brent Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the U.S. House of Representatives. He holds an LLM in international financial law from the London School of Economics.

Tags Donald Trump Donald Trump Donald Trump presidential campaign Paul Ryan Robert Mueller Robert Mueller Rod Rosenstein Rod Rosenstein Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections Special Counsel investigation Steve Bannon United States Department of Justice

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