As we sit on the edge of our seats waiting for Thursday’s spectacle of former FBI Director James Comey's testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, I already see two significant tip-offs about the way this case is viewed by President Donald Trump and Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.
The first is that the president thinks he has nothing to hide. The president had the right to cite executive privilege and object to Comey testifying. Faced with a similar situation, I would say most presidents would have blocked such testimony.
But Trump believes that the Russian probe — and even Comey’s allegations against him regarding Gen. Michael Flynn — is much ado about nothing.
This has been the storyline of the past six months. The Trump administration has not sought to hide anything. They didn’t close down the Justice Department probe and they didn't pressure Senate and House committees to back off their investigations.
After months of investigations there has been no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and no allegation that the president did anything illegal.
One can understand the president’s frustration.
But in my mind, there is another tip-off relating to the Comey testimony. Robert Mueller, also a former FBI director, has given the green light for Comey to testify publicly.
Now that strikes me as odd. Mueller is new to this case. It seems to me a new prosecutor would not want a star witness testifying so soon to Congress. Wouldn’t Mueller want to get his testimony first, nail down all the leads and allegations and control the “stuff” before it’s aired publicly?
Coupled with the recent report that Mueller has added heavyweight prosecutors to his team, it strikes me that Comey’s public testimony could be quite helpful to Mueller, especially if he plans on seeking indictments or targeting the president. In that light, Comey’s testimony builds the public case against the president and his team.
Faced with this, the president, in my opinion, should continue to be forthright and candid, as he has been all along.
But he should also realize that his best defense against a prosecutor who may soon go far afield from his original assignment, is to grow his own popularity.
Trump, at his heart, is a centrist, a populist and pragmatic. He’s not an ideologue.
Keeping his priority on job creation, tax cuts to boost the economy, a vast infrastructure, and other popular initiatives will be the best immunity shots against a Washington establishment that’s out to get him. On the other hand, low and falling approval numbers will fuel Trump’s enemies.
Trump should remember the line during the 1990s that explained Bill Clinton’s success through a red-hot political environment: “Americans cared more about the Dow Jones than Paula Jones.”
Christopher Ruddy is CEO of Newsmax Media, Inc., one of the country's leading conservative news outlets. Read more Christopher Ruddy Insider articles — Click Here Now.
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