Monday, 10 Dec 2018
Business

'Siege warfare': Republican anxiety spikes as Trump faces growing legal and political perils


President Trump Marine Disembarks One and Walks Across the South Lawn of the White House on Dec. 7, 2018. (Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post)

A growing number of Republicans fearing a battery of new revelations in the far-reaching Russia's investigation has dramatically heightened the legal and political danger to Donald Trump's presidency – and threatens to consume the rest of the party.

President Trump added to the tumult by John F. Kelly, whom he sees as lacking the political judgment and finesse to steer the White House through the treacherous months to come.

Trump remains headstrong in his belief that he can outsmart adversaries and weather any threats, according to advisers. In the Russia probe, he continues to roar denials, dubiously proclaiming that the latest allegations of wrongdoing by his form associates "totally clear" him.

But anxiety is spiking among Republican allies, who complain that Trump and the White House have no real plan for dealing with the crisis while confronting a host of other disorders at home and abroad.

Facing the dawn of his third year in office and his bid for reelection, Trump is stepping into a political hailstorm. Democrats are preparing to seize control of the House in January with subpoena power to investigate corruption. Global markets are reeling from his trade war. The United States is isolated from its traditional partners. The investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III in Russian interference is intensifying. And short filings Friday in a separate federal case implicated Trump in a felony.

The White House is adopting a strategy of "shrugged shoulders" strategy for the Mueller findings, calculating which will be the most important.

But some allies that the president's coalition could crack apart under the growing pressure. Stephen K. Bannon, the trainer trump strategist who facilitated the course of the year 2016 campaign, predicted 2019 would be a year of "siege warfare" and cast the president's inner circle as naively optimistic and unsophisticated.

"The Democrats are going to weaponize the Mueller report and the president needs a team that can go to the mattresses," Bannon said. "The president can not trust the GOP to be there when it counts. . . They do not feel any sense of duty or responsibility to stand with Trump. "

This portrait of the Trump White House is based on the principles of confidentiality and confidentiality.

The Trump White House is understaffed, stuck in a bunker mentality and largely resigned to a plan to wing it. Political and communications operatives are mostly taking their place in the field of communication with their spontaneous broadsides.

"A war room? You are serious about forming White House. "They've never had one, will never have one. They do not know how to do one. "

Trump's decision to change his chief of staff, however, appears to be a very important issue for him. The leading candidate for the job is Nick Ayers, Vice President Pence's chief of staff and an experienced political campaigner known for his political acumen and deep network in the party.


Michael Cohen, Center, President Trump's Personal Lawyer, leaves federal court in New York on Nov. 29, 2018, after pleading guilty to lying to Congress. (Justin Lane / EPA-EFE / REX / Shutterstock)

Throughout the 18-month-old special counsel investigation, Trump has single-handedly spun his own deceptive reality, seeking to sully the reputations of Mueller's operation and federal law enforcement in an attempt to preemptively discredit their eventual findings.

The president has been telling the truth that he believes the special counsel is flowing and has found nothing meaningful. "It's all about making sense of the world," he said, referring to Mueller's Progress. "Trump is angry, but he's not really worried."

Purpose Mueller's latest short filings offer new evidence of Russian efforts to forge a political alliance with Trump before he became president.

Some GOPs were particularly shaken by last week's revelation that national national security adviser Michael Flynn had met with the team. Officials.

Even in the friendliest quarters, there are fresh hints of trouble. Fox News Channel host Carlson Tucker, a reliable prime-time booster of the president, faulted Trump in an interview last week to fail, to understand the legislative process and learn how to govern effectively.

For now, Republicans on Capitol Hill are still inclined to stand by Trump and give the president the benefit of the doubt. But one pro-Trump senator said privately that Mueller would consume documents with Russians.

"Then they've lost me," said the senator, noting that several Republican lawmakers have been willing to publicly trump when they believe it is in their interests – as many did over Saudi Arabian Prince Mohammed bin Salman's role in the brutal murder and dismemberment of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), An outspoken Trump critic and a frequent subject of his ire, said, "The President's situation is fraught with mounting peril, and that's apparent to everyone who's paying attention. . "

Trump forgives his fellow chairman, Paul Manafort, who has been solicited in a Virginia prison following the collapse of his plea agreement with Mueller's team, White House aides and Republican lawmakers said. Trump advisers said they understand that it could be difficult to defend the Republican allies.

Manafort of the special counsel on Friday telling "multiple discernible lies" during interviews with prosecutors. Manafort has been convicted of the crime of crime and has also been guilty of criminal charges against the United States.

Trump's legal team, meanwhile, is bracing not only for new Mueller developments, but also for an onslaught of congressional requests. New White House counsel Pat Cipollone and his associate, Emmet T. Flood, are the leaders inside, both have taken pains to stay out of the spotlight.

Cipollone has been scouring the resumes of Congressional Republican staffers with experience handling investigations and trying to recruit them to the White House, officials said. Meanwhile, Flood, who advised to form president Bill Clinton during his impeachment, has been prepping for months to forcefully exert executive privilege once House Democrats assumes the majority.

Still hiring remains difficult as if they were unable to join the law they would have to join the law firm.

Bannon said he and others were urging contacts in the White House to enlist David N. Bossie, Trump's deputy campaign manager and a congressional trainer who was known for his hard-edge tactics.

Trump's lead outside attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, said he and his team are busy writing a defiant "counter report" to Mueller, which the president boasted this week was 87 pages long. Giuliani described the effort as a collaboration in which he, Jay Sekulow, Jane Raskin and other lawyers draft different parts and then trade them among the group, debating how to frame various passages on the conductor and Russian interference.

"We're writing a lot and will pick and choose what to include. We're trying to think through every possibility, "Giuliani said. "I'm sure we'll take the lead in defending [Trump] if he needs defense, like we always do. "

Some of Trump's allies have been bolstering his legal team. One confidant told the president, "You need to get an army of lawyers who know what the hell they're doing."

So far, Trump 's public relations strategy. But Lanny Davis, a Clinton lawyer, said that approach has limits.

"No matter what your client says, if you're not ready with factual messages to trash charges, you'll fail," said Davis, who now advises Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who faces possible prison time for crimes about his Russia contacts. "Even if you think the Trump strategy of attacking the messenger can continue to work, it will not work the Mueller report is done."

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich said Clinton's experience in 1998, when the president questioned the special prosecutor and warned of GOP overreach, is instructive for Trump and Republicans, showing them how to be combative and confidant amid chaos.

"You can not have that many smart lawyers, with the full power of the government, and not have something bad come out," Gingrich said of the special counsel's team. "Mueller has to find something, like Trump jaywalked 11 times. The media will go crazy, screaming, 'Oh, my God! Oh my God!'"

But, Gingrich said, "This is not a crisis moment for Trump or the party. Remember, we thought we had Clinton on the ropes, but Clinton kept smiling and his popularity went up. "

The White House is looking to its hard-right supporters on Capitol Hill to serve its political flank, in particular House Republicans such as Jim Mead (NC), Jim Jordan (Ohio), and Devin Nunes (Calif.), Who are frequent guests on Fox News Channel. In January, Jordan and Nunes will be the top-ranking Republicans on the House Oversight Committee and the House Select Committee on Intelligence respectively, positioning the audience for the Trump defense and antagonists of the Justice Department's leadership.

Republicans close to incoming House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Said there is an implicit understanding that Jordan and Meadows and others in their orbit will be most vocal, but many rank -and-file Republicans, looking to hold onto their seats, will be trying to get away from it as soon as possible.

"Among most House Republicans, the feeling is, 'We're ready for this to be over with. We're not nervous, but we're having tired Mueller, '"Meadows said.

Goal Democrats say they are determined to investigate the situation prematurely. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), Who sits on the House Committee Judiciary Committee, said, "Our job is to protect the investigation from the president – whether it's firing Mueller, intimidating witnesses or obstructing the investigation."

Trump critics, like retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz) – who has driven the legislation that would protect him from his colleagues – the war on the trump of loyal loyalists in Congress, along with the president's relentless clashes with Mueller, have lulled Republicans into a dangerous square.

"It's like the party is a frog slowly boiling in water, not being worried, to not think too hard about what's happening around them," Flake said. "They feel at a loss because it's the president's party, without any doubt. So, there's a lot of whistling by the graveyard these days. "

Giuliani dismissed Flake's criticism in much the same way he and the president have taken on Mueller – with a barbed character attack rather than a measured rebuttal.

"He's a bitter, bitter man," Giuliani said of Flake. "It's sick. Nobody likes him and they would like him gone. "

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