By Agence France-Presse
No one even knows when it will come out, but Robert Mueller’s top secret probe into possible collusion between Donald Trump and Russia has Washington on edge — and the president mounting preemptive attacks against impeachment.
“How do you impeach a man who is considered by many to be the President with the most successful first two years in history, especially when he has done nothing wrong,” Trump asked Wednesday in a stream of tweets laying out the case for his innocence.
Urgent predictions that Mueller’s report is just about to drop have come out all year, only to be proven wrong, leaving the country grasping for clues.
Every passing week with no news raises the tension. Will the special counsel’s nearly two-year investigation exonerate Trump?
Or will it link him to a Kremlin influence operation in what would be one of the biggest political scandals in US history?
Trump is far from the only one biting his nails.
National Public Radio made waves last week with a report about elderly people near death’s door fighting to hang on so that they too can see what Mueller uncovers.
Impeachment skirmishes begin
Almost everyone agrees that whatever Mueller finds, he will abide by justice department policy that he does not have authority to indict a sitting president.
That job, if this worst case scenario occurred, would fall to Congress and a possible impeachment trial.
But impeachment is a political, rather than purely judicial battle, and Trump — Mueller report or no Mueller report — is already fighting back.
He got an unexpected assist from the de facto Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on Monday when she effectively took impeachment off the table for now — much to the annoyance of more gung-ho members of her party.
“Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country,” Pelosi, who is speaker of the House of Representatives, told The Washington Post.
Trump leapt on that Wednesday, tweeting “I greatly appreciate Nancy Pelosi’s statement.”
“Everyone must remember the minor fact that I never did anything wrong, the Economy and Unemployment are the best ever, Military and Vets are great — and many other successes!” he continued.
Judgment day or bust?
Once Mueller finally hands in his findings, today’s skirmishes will turn into battles on an rarely seen scale.
The first clash will be simply over how much of the report is even made public.
Trump-appointed Attorney General William Barr gets to make that decision.
However, if Democrats don’t get what they want, they will force Mueller to testify before Congress — a hearing that would turn into a political spectacle for the ages.
And only then would the final showdown — the fight over Trump’s future — begin.
Incredibly for a city submerged in leaks to the media, Mueller’s most stunning known achievement so far has been to keep everyone guessing.
Republicans predict the Mueller report will be a bust, giving Trump, who has repeatedly called the whole thing a “witch hunt,” an open route to reelection in 2020.
But Democrats see judgment day approaching.
“Here’s my rule on this one,” Senator Elizabeth Warren, one of an array of Democrats seeking nomination as Trump’s 2020 opponent, told MSNBC news Wednesday.
“Let’s wait until we get the Mueller report. Combine it with everything else we’ve seen. Then we’ll know what to do.”