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the presidency

Is the End Game at Hand?

He had already made it clear that he intends to fire Attorney General Sessions after the midterm elections, when The New York Times handed President Trump justification for an immediate act of retribution: the report that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had last year, two weeks into the job, considered wearing a wire while with Trump to gain grounds for a 25th Amendment incompetency removal of the president from office. (Rosenstein says he was joking, the Times says he was not). This, selectively, was not viewed as fake news in the Trump camp.

The stage was set for Saturday Night Massacre Part II — getting rid of Rosenstein, who, as overseer of the Mueller probe, blocks Trump's path to shutting down the Russia probe.

“The president should order Rosenstein to release all documents requested under subpoena by every committee on the Hill within 72 hours. And he should fire him immediately after if he does not comply in full”

…said former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon said in an interview, thinking exposure to the world of Americas secret intelligence as just punishment of Rosenstein. But Saturday night came and went. Before the summer break (and to get headlines), North Carolina's Mark Meadows and Ohio's Jim Jordan had already gone so far as to introduce articles of impeachment against Rosenstein for his months-long resistance io turning over documents to Congress, yet Meadows recommended that the president take no action. Even Sean Hannity counseled forbearance. “I have a message for the president tonight", he said on air. "Under zero circumstances should the president fire anybody”. As with Sessions, best to wait until after the midterm elections, when Trump will have a twofer. But Trump and Rosenstein are about to meet.

the sessions obsession

"I'm disappointed in the attorney general for many reasons and you understand that", the president said to reporters and when asked "Are you going to fire him?" he answered "We are looking at lots of different things".

The geneal presidtion is that Rump will indeed fire Sessions right after the midterms and then install a pliant AG who has previously agreed to fire Mueller and shut down his investigation. Allowing for the possibility that Democrats could win control of the Senate, Mr. Trump will need rapid confirmation of his nominee in the few weeks Republicans are still the majority and before a new Senate alignment might take over in January. But winning even Republicans' approval of his nominee may not be so simple. Sessions has many friends from his long years as a senator, and they find the president's constant denigration of his attorney general shameful. "I don't have an attorney general", he said to Hill.TV, and even stooped to mock Sesson's southern accent.

cornered

The noose is tightening. Paul Manafort, facing a second trial, opted to enter into a cooperation agreement with the Russia investigators. With their exhibits, witnesses and arguments set to go, for Mueller to wash out that trial says that Manfort's proffer of evidence must be persuasive if not incendiary.

Michael Cohen's circle as well as his attorney say that he, too, is now talking to special counsel Mueller and his team, specifically about Russian contacts, and without even a cooperation agreement for trading reduced charges for information. Cohen's years-long work with the Trump family means that information he is providing could involve Donald Trump's sons and daughter, a red line that could trigger peremptory acts from the president. Or perhaps he is mollified by his consigliere, Rudy Giuliani, saying “Cohen has a history of lying” and "is not worthy of belief".

Will Mueller's firing put an end to it all? It is unclear what he would do with a voluminous report which probably stands ready, constantly growing and updated. Will he dutifully turn it over to the Republican-controlled congressional committees for burial? Or will he finally go public? He is far too savvy not to have taken precautions all along, say the numerous former prosecutors who appear on the cable news programs. Via Rod Rosenstein's office he will have planted tentacles in various U.S. attorneys' offices, they say. As outcroppings, we have already seen cases in the Southern District of New York, in Virginia, in the District of Columbia. Other offices might conceivably have jurisdiction. Once U.S. attorneys bring cases, they see them through. And lying in wait Mueller might have a flurry of indictments under seal that would be launched upon his firing.

"Let's see what happens"

That's a phrase often used by the president and the coming weeks should see much happen, so it is certainly a time to stay tuned.

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