Why Bannon suddenly wants Mueller stopped—because he’s focusing on collusion, not just obstruction
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A Vanity Fair article Wednesday raised brows with its assertion that even in the West Wing now, “the prospect of impeachment is being considered as a realistic outcome and not just a liberal fever dream.”
Impeachment is an undoubtedly dreamy prospect, but the question is: Why are Trump’s aides and allies suddenly so freaked when they seemingly weren’t super rattled before?
On MSNBC, journalist Howard Fineman made the point that the special counsel documents released this week—and, in particular, the George Papadopoulos flip—make clear that Robert Mueller is pursuing a collusion case and not just an obstruction of justice case.
“He thinks the collusion case is there, and that is the political bombshell here,” Fineman explained. “Because I think even the [Steve] Bannons and the [Roger] Stones of the world thought Donald Trump could fight his way through an obstruction case.”
The difference between collusion and obstruction, in Fineman’s estimation, is that collusion is more concrete whereas obstruction is more open to interpretation.
It’s political to some extent—one man’s obstruction is another man’s defense of a valid move. But if there’s collusion, if Mueller can go after it and prove it, that’s causing the hysteria in the Bannon/Stone wing. […] If Mueller really has his hands on the collusion case, the only way to save themselves is to attempt to blow it all up.
In a series of phone calls with Trump on Monday and Tuesday, Bannon told the president to shake up the legal team by installing an aggressive lawyer above [Ty] Cobb, according to two sources briefed on the call. Bannon has also discussed ways to pressure Congress to defund Mueller’s investigation or limit its scope. “Mueller shouldn’t be allowed to be a clean shot on goal,” a Bannon confidant told me. “He must be contested and checked. Right now he has unchecked power.”