Mueller Remains the Biggest Threat to Trump

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The long-awaited inspector general’s report on how the FBI handled investigations into Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in 2016 is finally out, as is a new lawsuit against Trump filed by New York’s attorney general accusing him of running a fraudulent charitable foundation.

There’s really very little here that’s good for the president.

That doesn’t mean that the report is good for former FBI Director James Comey, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and others. It’s not. But there doesn’t seem to be any support for any of the wild Trump accusations of conspiracies against him. As David Leonhardt puts it, the report

finds that Trump’s claims of a “rigged system” to protect Clinton are outright fabrications. They are, as is so often the case with Trump, lies. And the report finds no reason to lose confidence in Robert Mueller’s continuing investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

That investigation appears to be rigorous, fair and nonpartisan — which is precisely why it scares Trump and his enablers so much.

This isn’t, of course, going to convince any Trump fans. For them, it’s simply an article of faith that Clinton should have been indicted for her poor security practices — and an article of faith that Trump didn’t do anything wrong. And while the “neutral” media doesn’t agree with the notion that Trump is innocent of all possible charges, many reporters still believe that Clinton is an unusually corrupt politician, and they’ll continue to cover her with that as the context.

Not that it matters anymore; the odds are that we’ll have to wait at least two more generations to have a Clinton back on a ballot. What does matter is that the president of the United States has once again been accused of misconduct, just over a year after he last settled a lawsuit over a completely different fraud involving his phony education scam.

Whether any of this has any direct effect on Trump’s popularity is unknown, but I suspect it’s unlikely. It’s the usual story: Strong partisans on both sides will believe the spin their party is spouting, but they already have (mostly) fixed views already. And those who don’t have strong opinions? They’re busy with the pennant races or the World Cup or the new season of “Claws” (the most fun show you’re not watching) or whatever they’re doing that’s not paying attention to politics, and they’ll never even know that there was an inspector general report.

Trump does get some talking points out of the inspector general report. However, there’s really nothing in there as far as I can see that protects him against the steady grind of Robert Mueller’s investigation. And while the foundation lawsuit will pose problems, it’s really the Mueller probe that threatens him the most.

1. Daniel McDowell at the Monkey Cage on China and world finance.

2. Also at the Monkey Cage: Rorie Spill Solberg and Eric N. Waltenburg on Trump’s record with judicial nominations.

3. G. Elliott Morris on the different types of election predictions.

4. My Bloomberg Opinion colleague Ramesh Ponnuru looks at yet another Obamacare lawsuit.

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