I'd say that shit just got real around the White House on Wednesday night, but shit hasn't been anything but real there ever since the country determined it would be best led for the next four to eight years by a vulgar talking yam. As everyone who follows Preet Bharara on the electric Twitter machine—and why don't you, by the way?—knew was coming, the news that special counsel Robert Mueller had rolled out the railroad artillery broke well after the close of business. From The Washington Post:
The move by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Trump's conduct marks a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation, which until recently focused on Russian meddling during the presidential campaign and on whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Investigators have also been looking for any evidence of possible financial crimes among Trump associates, officials said. Trump had received private assurances from then-FBI Director James B. Comey starting in January that he was not personally under investigation. Officials say that changed shortly after Comey's firing.
You can't fix stupid, boys. Better men than you have tried.
Five people briefed on the interview requests, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said that Daniel Coats, the current director of national intelligence, Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, and Rogers's recently departed deputy, Richard Ledgett, agreed to be interviewed by Mueller's investigators as early as this week.
Also, never underestimate the destructive power of terrified careerists, as The Daily Beast illustrates:
But some privately concede that Trump is so unpredictable—and so frustrated with the persistence of the investigation and its cost in political capital—that they're not ruling it out. Another White House official conceded that it would be "suicide" if Trump sacked Mueller at this point, but "I'd be insincere if I said it wasn't a concern that the president would try to do it anyway."
Let's see if there's any solace to be found over here with the folks at The New York Times. Oops, no, shit's gotten pretty real there, too, via RawStory:
"A former senior official said Mr. Mueller's investigation was looking at money laundering by Trump associates," a source told the Times. "The suspicion is that any cooperation with Russian officials would most likely have been done in exchange for some kind of financial payoff, and that there would have been an effort to hide the payoffs, most likely by routing them through offshore banking centers." A separate investigation into Russia has also reportedly focused on potential use of offshore banking centers to launder money. In April, House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) visited Cyprus, which "has a reputation as a laundromat for the Russians who are trying to avoid sanctions."
It is now painfully clear that Mueller has opened the ballgame on the Trump organization's entire business model, which always has been aromatic but which now has become entangled with the intelligence community, the institutions of government, and the national interest, as interpreted by Robert Mueller. He isn't some roofing specialist that you can stiff and then drag through the courts until he can't afford the trip any more. He isn't someone you can scare off with your usual gang of billable-hour button men. He isn't some dingy Russian banker who can float you a loan to tide you over. He is honest and respected and relentless, and the only way you're going to get rid of him is to fire him. In a way, the country is daring you to do that, just to see if you have the stones for what comes next, and (possibly) as the last excuse it needs to insist on a new president. Go ahead. Make our day.
MUELLER ISN'T SOMEONE YOU CAN SCARE OFF WITH YOUR USUAL GANG OF BILLABLE-HOUR BUTTON MEN.
For a long time, I didn't believe that the president* would bring all this down on himself just to hide the fact that he isn't as rich as he says he is, but now I'm less sure. I think, maybe, that's what's at the bottom of everything else. I think he isn't that rich, so he and the family business allegedly needed freshly laundered Russian money to keep the business—and his image—afloat. Then, of course, the bill came due from Moscow, and that required another set of malodorous transactions which, in turn, required that they be concealed by another set of malodorous transactions, including the firing of James Comey, and so on.
God, the tax returns. If he'd only released the tax returns, and the people had gotten a look at how he does business and how much he's really worth, it's likely none of this happens. Of course, it's also likely he doesn't become president* either, but, what the hell, all indications are he doesn't much like the job, anyway, at least not enough to learn the basics of how to do it properly.
In any event, it appears that we're all going to get a crash course in the crooked side of high finance—like we need another one of those—and in identifying all the various fauna in the wild kingdom of the international real estate game. I love those teachable moments. Truly, I do.