Reality check: Sessions can't end Mueller probe

CNN's John Avlon looks at President Trump's recent tweet calling for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Posted: Aug 3, 2018 9:15 AM
Updated: Aug 3, 2018 9:34 AM

For the first time, President Donald Trump has called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to personally step in and end what he calls the "rigged witch hunt" -- the Russia investigation.

This is reality challenged on a number of levels.

First, it ignores a fact that has frustrated Trump since Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation back in March 2017: He can't end it. Only the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, can do it, and only for "misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or for other good cause." There is no evidence to show special counsel Robert Mueller is remotely guilty of any of that.

Second, explicitly calling on Sessions to end the investigation would certainly seem like an invitation to obstruction of justice; especially since, according to The New York Times, the Mueller team is looking at Trump's tweets for evidence of obstruction.

Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and the White House have said the President was merely expressing an opinion, not giving an order.

Of course, on a persistent schoolyard taunt level, the special counsel investigation is neither "rigged" nor a "witch hunt." But facts don't often deter this President from playing verbal offense. He's a master marketer trying to impose a new association on the investigation, so that his supporters will ignore the results no matter what they are.

Nonetheless, there's an increasingly desperate edge to his screaming "WITCH HUNT" at the special counsel. In fact, as the Russia investigation heats up, he uses it more and more. For example, he said it only three times on Twitter in May 2017 but 20 times in May 2018.

Trump, of course, is not the first president to cry "witch hunt." Witness Exhibit A, a Washington Post headline from late July 1973 blaring, "Nixon Sees 'Witch-Hunt,' Insiders Say." Just over a year later, Nixon left the White House in disgrace.

But neither party has a monopoly on virtue or vice, and new statistics say Democrats may have to revise one of their favorite rallying cries, that the Trump economy and the impact of his tax cuts haven't benefited Main Street. New data from the Labor Department shows that American workers, on average, just got their biggest raise in almost a decade in terms of wages and benefits. Whether this will outweigh rising consumer prices remains to be seen.

One final note. The Washington Post is out with its latest diagnosis of the truthfulness of Trump. As of Day 558 of his presidency, more than 4,200 of Trump's claims were determined to be "false or misleading." If you're doing the math at home, that's an average of 7.6 false or misleading claims a day. Many of those could just be called "lies."

And that's your Reality Check.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 751826

Reported Deaths: 13811
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1033581790
Lake557861011
Allen41721692
St. Joseph37001565
Hamilton36612417
Elkhart29416461
Tippecanoe22926227
Vanderburgh22559400
Porter19364326
Johnson18481389
Hendricks17692317
Clark13231195
Madison13166344
Vigo12629253
LaPorte12425221
Monroe12219176
Delaware10969198
Howard10343225
Kosciusko9636121
Hancock8578147
Bartholomew8172157
Warrick7862156
Floyd7814180
Grant7246179
Wayne7165201
Boone6976103
Morgan6764141
Dubois6222118
Marshall6211116
Cass6023110
Henry5903110
Dearborn589878
Noble581688
Jackson509476
Shelby502296
Lawrence4749122
Gibson445395
Clinton443255
Harrison441775
DeKalb440085
Montgomery438890
Whitley406643
Huntington403181
Steuben400559
Miami395669
Jasper388855
Knox377491
Putnam373461
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Ripley347370
Adams345555
Jefferson336186
White332453
Daviess3033100
Wells295381
Decatur289892
Greene286885
Fayette284864
Posey273835
LaGrange273172
Scott270156
Clay267148
Washington246236
Randolph245183
Jennings235349
Spencer234631
Starke228058
Fountain221448
Sullivan214643
Owen212258
Fulton203443
Jay201032
Carroll193820
Orange188255
Perry187237
Rush175926
Vermillion175144
Franklin170435
Tipton166646
Parke149616
Pike138334
Blackford136232
Pulaski120748
Newton114436
Brown104443
Benton102514
Crawford102516
Martin91815
Warren84015
Switzerland8158
Union72810
Ohio57911
Unassigned0424

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1109374

Reported Deaths: 20213
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1288561469
Cuyahoga1158492216
Hamilton814161251
Montgomery525741049
Summit484431006
Lucas43380824
Butler39066606
Stark33348930
Lorain25690506
Warren24607305
Mahoning22383602
Lake21216389
Clermont20133253
Delaware18873136
Licking16668225
Fairfield16582204
Trumbull16559483
Medina15615273
Greene15289248
Clark14240306
Wood13296200
Portage13251216
Allen11916239
Richland11610211
Miami10857225
Wayne9147225
Columbiana9038230
Muskingum8908135
Pickaway8663122
Tuscarawas8654251
Marion8646139
Erie8058165
Ashtabula7171179
Hancock6998133
Ross6946163
Geauga6843151
Scioto6536106
Belmont6159174
Union584849
Lawrence5739102
Jefferson5681159
Huron5550122
Sandusky5444126
Darke5420129
Seneca5350128
Washington5323109
Athens524360
Auglaize502287
Mercer487585
Shelby477095
Knox4573112
Madison444566
Ashland435897
Putnam4335104
Defiance432399
Fulton432174
Crawford4045110
Brown402561
Logan387678
Preble3858105
Clinton379166
Ottawa373581
Highland359966
Williams348478
Champaign344959
Guernsey325254
Jackson318354
Perry297350
Morrow291840
Fayette285550
Hardin275565
Henry273667
Holmes2703101
Coshocton269260
Van Wert247264
Adams243256
Pike242835
Gallia240850
Wyandot234756
Hocking220663
Carroll197448
Paulding176642
Meigs148540
Monroe136345
Noble136239
Harrison114138
Morgan110024
Vinton85717
Unassigned03
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The warming trend continues into Thursday with highs reaching into the middle 80s.
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