It wouldn't be a Monday morning if there weren't an update on the Russia probe, right? Well, the latest news is that President Donald Trump reportedly really wants the investigation to be over with — some have speculated it's because Trump is reportedly fearful of what it might uncover, while others think it has become "political." So when will the Russia investigation end? Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, claims Robert Mueller says it's ending soon — as in Sept. 1 — but there's not really proof of that.
The New York Times first reported on Sunday, May 20, that the president's top lawyer, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, claimed the special counsel shared the timeline of the investigation with him — namely, that it would likely be finished by Sept. 1, and that Trump's readiness to be questioned by Mueller's investigators would play a role in determining the investigation's end date. Mueller, who has continually opted for a low profile, has not commented publicly at any point in the investigation.
Elite Daily reached out to Giuliani for comment but did not hear back at the time of publication. Elite Daily also reached out to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to verify the information in Giuliani's claims, but did not hear back at the time of publication.
Officials close to the investigation, however, are reportedly claiming that Giuliani is banking on the fact that Mueller won't respond publicly, and is therefore spewing any and all folklore in hopes that it will stick. If that's in fact what Giuliani is doing, it is a dangerous and brash strategy that authoritarian regimes often use to sow division. So, that's nice.
A U.S. official close to the probe told Reuters anonymously that the Sept. 1 deadline was "entirely made-up."
“He’ll wrap it up when he thinks he’s turned over every rock, and when that is will depend on how cooperative witnesses, persons of interest and maybe even some targets are, if any of those emerge, and on what new evidence he finds, not on some arbitrary, first-of-the-month deadline one of the president’s attorneys cooks up,” the official told Reuters.
Giuliani's track record on delivering truthful information about the probe has been called into question in the last few weeks. Giuliani revealed on May 2 on Fox News that Trump reportedly reimbursed his personal attorney Michael Cohen for paying adult film star Stormy Daniels $130,000 ahead of the 2016 election so she wouldn't go public with her claims of a past affair with the president — which Trump has repeatedly denied — but all of this contradicted Trump’s previous public denials that he paid Cohen or that he even knew about the transaction. After Giuliani's May 2 interview, Trump tweeted that Cohen "received a monthly retainer, not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign, from which he entered into, through reimbursement" an NDA "to stop the false and extortionist accusations made by" Daniels. That whole Stormy Daniels debacle could possibly fall under Mueller's purview if Trump's alleged hush money to the adult film star violated campaign finance laws.
What is certain, is that Trump wants this investigation to be done with. Like, really wants it to be over with. He quoted a Fox News contributor in a series of tweets early on Monday morning, May 21, who seemed to validate his own view of the Mueller investigation.
It's important to remember — Trump is the same Trump he's always Trumped. He's the same dude who claimed that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose any voters. He has not pivoted from campaign-Trump to POTUS-Trump, whatsoever. Some experts say that's because Trump fits the bill of an authoritarian — and any further action he takes to suppress the independent investigation being conducted by Mueller would only confirm that.
"He politicizes the rule of law, calling to jail his opponents, like Hillary Clinton, calling to pardon his political allies like Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona, and he attacks Bob Mueller's investigation as a Witch Hunt despite all evidence to the contrary," Brian Klaas, an expert in authoritarianism, told NowThis in January. Klaas continued,
Something that separates authoritarian regimes from democratic states is the idea that nobody is above the law. And Trump trying to say that he's the victim of a witch hunt poisons the minds of people who support him to believe that any sense of law enforcement, any sense that the judiciary, any deployment of any sort of rule of law in America, is politically motivated. That can't be walked back quickly.
Trump attacked his own Justice Department (DOJ) on Sunday, May 20, calling for an independent investigation of whether the DOJ surveilled the Trump campaign. Again, Trump appears to be undermining institutions.
"I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes - and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!" Trump tweeted.
It's not clear whether Giuliani's Sept. 1 is accurate, or even if Mueller's probe is in the process of wrapping up, as he also has suggested. It is very clear, though, that Trump and his surrogates are ramping up their attacks on the investigation and the institutions themselves, which is pretty scary. If Trump is seeking to discredit Mueller, his own intelligence agencies, and general rule of law, the only other unanswered question is, why?