US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump Jim Watson/Getty Images

A Trump New Year

US President Donald Trump and his allies in Congress appear determined to torpedo Special Counsel Robert Mueller's independent legal inquiry into whether Trump and his campaign colluded with Russia in its efforts to defeat Hillary Clinton. Trump and his advisers have evidently learned nothing from recent history.

WASHINGTON, DC – As US President Donald Trump decamped to his mansion-cum-private club in Palm Beach, Florida, for the holidays, he left Washington, DC, on edge. It’s obvious that Trump and his strong allies in Congress – he has more than one might expect – are determined to torpedo what’s supposed to be an independent legal inquiry into whether Trump and his campaign colluded with Russia in its efforts to defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The Trump camp’s behavior toward Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the FBI, which is aiding Mueller’s investigation, makes Richard Nixon and his aides’ behavior toward the Watergate investigators look tame and respectful by comparison. Although Nixon did fire the first independent prosecutor, Archibald Cox, in the infamous “Saturday Night Massacre,” another was installed and Nixon ultimately resigned rather than face impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction by the Senate. (In that case, he would have had to leave office without a valuable pension.)

Oddly, Trump and his advisers seem not to have learned from more recent history, either. In firing FBI director James Comey, Trump opened himself up to the appointment of a special counsel. Whether an impeachment effort will be made cannot be known now. But most observers believe that key Republicans in the House of Representatives, where impeachment would begin, have thrown in their lot with Trump, mainly because they fear his loyal base (about a third of the country, clustered in many congressional districts).

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