Thursday, 08 February 2018 19:07

If Trump speaks to Mueller, can he restrain his "irresistible impulse"?

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trump whitehouse muellerAsk three lawyers the same question and you’ll get three different answers, so it’s no surprise that there’s conflict in Donald Trump’s legal team over whether, or not, the president should talk to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. There is one tactical consideration, however, that supersedes all others. It has to do with Trump’s temperament.

The president is forgetful. To some, Trump’s poor recall, intentional or otherwise, is a virtue begetting flexibility. To others, it’s evidence of an irresistible impulse towards habitual lying. Politics is a profession, notably, of expediency, and that makes prior inconsistent statements de rigueur, but Trump has mastered the change of mind with unbelievable alacrity. He can alter course even mid-tweet. The lawyers who fear his meeting with Mueller on the grounds of Trump’s penchant for inconsistent statements are, probably, right.

Trump, also, rambles ad nauseum. When confronted with a hostile questioner there are two basic and inviolable rules: (1) don’t say anything; and, (2) if you decide to talk, say as few words as possible, preferably, “yes,” “no,” or I don’t know,” any of which can be explained after the fact in a process known as contextualizing. The president, whose words reveal a chaotic stream of consciousness, may be too disorganized a thinker to sit in front of skilled, deeply prepared interrogators. To Trump, his style is “being genuine.” To cautious lawyers, this trait reeks of recklessness.

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On June 2, 2016, Fortune Magazine wrote, “Trump’s proclivity for litigation has a long history. The candidate and his businesses have been involved in a minimum of 3,500 lawsuits over the past 30 years.” USA Today reported it’s an average of over 116 lawsuits annually. Over the course of these lawsuits there have been numerous depositions. Anyone who has watched a Trump deposition will appreciate the president’s skill at testifying under oath. The lawyers advocating that Trump visit Mueller, justifiably, can be reassured by the number of times he has faced the dragons and prevailed.

The real reason Trump will go to Mueller’s Mountain, however, regardless of what anyone else thinks, is the same one that drove the Beatles to Tibet, namely, a thirst to partake of their unknown selves. After a year of stony silence, Mueller has accumulated more secrets about Trump than Trump, probably, holds about himself. It’s maddening not to know what they are.

The president often speaks about himself in the third person, and that’s the person who most fascinates Trump. Just as he voraciously consumes media about himself, Trump can’t let the opportunity pass to see what Mueller thinks about Trump. That’s the real irresistible impulse. Trump, for what it’s worth, must talk. It’s insulting to the president and the American public, alike, that some of his lawyers think Trump may say too much, say too little, lie, or flub when meeting Mueller. To affirmatively close this case Trump will have to make an appearance, as promised. That he welcomes it is a good sign.


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