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: 1506866

Reported Deaths: 20637
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion2056892545
Lake1006641508
Allen935801017
Hamilton72876550
St. Joseph64730759
Elkhart49383628
Vanderburgh48286528
Tippecanoe43764336
Johnson38300526
Hendricks36427460
Porter34494473
Madison29024543
Clark25868326
Vigo25633345
LaPorte23430309
Monroe23133247
Howard22089379
Delaware21603368
Hancock18686220
Bartholomew18152215
Kosciusko17921203
Warrick16933214
Wayne16230302
Floyd15876257
Grant15364298
Morgan14409231
Boone13514138
Noble11815141
Dearborn11676113
Henry11667201
Shelby11649151
Marshall11337168
Dubois11257152
Jackson10586104
Cass10269143
DeKalb10202130
Lawrence10196220
Huntington10156139
Gibson9583126
Montgomery9274143
Knox9043125
Harrison8983117
Whitley874371
Steuben8603105
Jasper8252115
Clinton818995
Miami8128133
Putnam8128100
Jefferson7849127
Wabash7827139
Ripley7180114
Adams6658102
Daviess6558129
Scott645186
White620483
Clay607175
Greene6064112
Decatur5967120
Wells5944120
Jennings591680
Fayette5786122
Posey552648
LaGrange529697
Randolph5073129
Washington503669
Owen4976100
Fountain475880
Spencer451756
Sullivan443065
Starke440586
Fulton434192
Orange429582
Jay414664
Rush410237
Perry386455
Carroll381749
Franklin377550
Vermillion358362
Pike323445
Parke322538
Tipton317375
Blackford274055
Pulaski272275
Newton233661
Brown228956
Benton219021
Crawford217532
Switzerland197814
Martin189422
Warren175922
Union170219
Ohio124016
Unassigned0739

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2460869

Reported Deaths: 31245
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin2660682065
Cuyahoga2589843018
Hamilton1711291714
Montgomery1142371604
Summit1077801391
Lucas917461160
Butler81317942
Stark759401400
Lorain63561792
Warren51721475
Mahoning50412915
Lake47212605
Clermont45258429
Delaware40037212
Trumbull39108755
Medina38036419
Licking37943408
Fairfield34857334
Greene33267422
Portage31942360
Clark31218445
Richland29019423
Wood28563297
Allen25249395
Miami23567395
Muskingum22859245
Columbiana22539403
Wayne21740356
Tuscarawas19252427
Erie18390222
Ashtabula18260342
Marion18111232
Scioto17366207
Ross16832252
Pickaway15948178
Hancock15761228
Geauga15374223
Lawrence14350186
Belmont13767247
Union1375384
Huron13682182
Jefferson13250258
Sandusky13047199
Athens12272106
Knox11850198
Seneca11762200
Darke11111198
Ashland11022178
Washington10836168
Auglaize10540142
Crawford10172175
Shelby10101157
Brown9734140
Fulton9531150
Guernsey9423117
Highland9396148
Defiance9321135
Logan9228142
Clinton9087127
Mercer8902111
Madison8836106
Preble8265162
Williams8127135
Putnam7922135
Ottawa7809121
Champaign7782112
Jackson7582117
Perry731298
Coshocton7210136
Morrow712882
Fayette688687
Pike640586
Hardin6397128
Gallia614791
Adams6000124
Van Wert5923121
Henry586493
Hocking5718104
Wyandot491590
Carroll4909100
Holmes4814161
Paulding414664
Meigs387473
Monroe307468
Noble289351
Harrison287961
Morgan283348
Vinton247945
Unassigned08
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