Is Donald Trump spacing out? Yesterday he signed Space Policy Directive-4, which orders the Pentagon to establish a Space Force within the US Air Force. Not quite the separate, sixth branch of the military that he touted back in June 2018, but whatever. Trump is riding high, so to speak.
He may riding even higher if the Mueller inquiry turns out to be a bust, at least when it comes to proving that Trump was actively colluding with Russian president Vladimir Putin during the 2016 presidential campaign. To be sure, there are no indications that Trump is feeling secure. He was quite agitated about the lengthy New York Times report about his energetic efforts to steer, or, if you prefer, obstruct justice over the past two years, with the fresh revelation that he demanded that Matthew G. Whitaker kneecap the New York investigation of Michael Cohen. Trump tweeted this morning in all caps that the Times is the ‘ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE’ and denied that he ever importuned Whitaker.
It seems that Whitaker was smart enough not to bite, which apparently enraged Trump. Here was a mediocrity who was supposed to serve as Trump’s henchman but wasn’t prepared to perform the requisite henching. In February when he testified to Congress, Whitaker tried to dodge the whole issue by telling lawmakers, ‘At no time has the White House asked for, nor have I provided, any promises or commitments concerning the Special Counsel’s investigation or any other investigation.’ Hmm. He refused to say that he had never discussed the matter with Trump.
But for all Trump’s rage, he must be pleased that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is saying that the Mueller report itself could be quite ‘anti-climactic.’ CNN is claiming that the report will be submitted next week. This has set liberal teeth on edge so much in the past few hours that not only their enamel but also dentin is almost completely worn down. If Mueller comes to no conclusion, Trump will have to pivot from declaring that he was leading a witch-hunt to embracing him. The Washington Post is reporting that Trump is fed up with former senator Dan Coats, the current Director of National Intelligence. Coats’s sin was to tell Congress in January that the chances of North Korea handing over its nuclear arsenal in a box with gift wrapping to Trump was virtually nil: ‘It is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities because its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival.’
Trump was incensed. Coats flunks the loyalty test, which is to say that he doesn’t bow and scrape to Trump. Trump doesn’t want subordinates; he wants flunkeys who cater to his version of reality, whatever it may happen to be any particular moment.
Even as Coats’s stock is plummeting, Mueller’s could be rising with the mercurial commander-in-chief. If Mueller gives Trump a pass or even exonerates him, he will have elevated his standing with the president. Trump might well try to replace Coats with Mueller as a reward. Still, some members of Congress are apparently uneasy about the prospect of Trump giving Coats the heave-ho and the staid Mueller would presumably flinch at the thought of having Trump as his direct superior.