Don't be misled into thinking Donald Trump's deliberate patter to make all Americans, not just Fox-fogged Republicans, is benign. Don't think he really believes what he says about his innocence.
For proof, consider his Monday tweet that he has "the absolute right to PARDON myself."
PARDON. All caps.
This is a man running scared. Very scared. Scared enough to do some really extreme and undemocratic and unconstitutional things.
Trump, of course, added that he wouldn't need to PARDON himself because he didn't do anything wrong. Then why even talk about it — even in lower-case letters, let alone all caps?
The president's tweet came after weekend news of a memo from Trump's lawyers to special counsel Robert Mueller, asserting that Trump possesses the power to pardon people implicated in the Russia probe and that as "chief law enforcement officer," Trump "could if he wished, terminate the inquiry." The memo — actually a 20-page so-called "confidential" letter hand-delivered to the special counsel in January and "obtained" by The New York Times — also asserted that Trump does not need to submit to a subpoena to sit for an interview with the special counsel team.
Was the memo released now to give Trump a cue for his tweet?
The Washington Post writes: "But, while all of these moves have stirred great concern that Trump is preparing to exercise near-dictatorial powers on his own behalf, they are better seen as a window into how weak and precarious Trump's position — politically, if not legally — has become."
The Post points to "the striking concession by Trump's lawyers that he did, in fact, dictate that initial statement for his son Donald Trump Jr., which falsified the real rationale for the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians. As the memo puts it, 'the president dictated a short but accurate response to The New York Times.'"
Don Jr.'s initial statement claimed the meeting was about Russian adoptions. Not until after Times reporters obtained his emails showing that he anticipated the meeting would yield dirt on Hillary Clinton furnished by Russia did he become more forthcoming. You should remember, also, that Mark Corallo, the former spokesman for Trump's legal team, resigned over Trump's role in that statement after participating in a private conference call with Trump himself and Trump's communications director Hope Hicks, who said Donald Trump Jr.'s emails "will never get out." The exchange left Corallo concerned that the Trump team was engaged in a cover-up.
Jed Shugerman, a professor at the Fordham University School of Law, told the Washington Post that Trump lawyers' concession likely meant they had no choice — Mueller has established exactly what happened. The lawyers were conceding that point to justify not sitting for an interview. In other words, they're claiming Trump already admits he dictated that statement, so Mueller doesn't need to ask about it.
The plot thickens.