What is it that you are trying to hide, Mr. President?
Donald Trump with his son-in-law Jared Kushner in the background. Trump has warned Robert Mueller, the special counsel, that he has no business investigating Trump family finances. | AP

Only a man with a lot to hide could say the kinds of things Donald Trump said yesterday to New York Times reporters.

He threatened to fire the special counsel, Robert Mueller, who is investigating the Russian hacking scandals because it seems Mr. Mueller is beginning to look at the potentially criminal financial dealings of Mr. Trump and his family. The president warned Mueller, through the interview, that looking into his own (Trump’s) finances would be crossing a red line.

Citing his recusal from investigating campaign-related matters, Trump ripped into Attorney General Jeff Sessions, saying, had he (Trump) known that the attorney general would recuse himself from investigating Russian involvement in the elections, he (Trump) would never have appointed him to the job of top law enforcement officer of the nation.

“I would have picked someone else had I known that, his recusal was unfair to the president,” Trump said, referring to himself in the third person. It brought back memories of Nixon, during an interview, telling a reporter that “if the president does it, it cannot be illegal.”

Under almost any ordinary circumstances, an attorney general attacked in the media the way Sessions was yesterday would resign. These are not ordinary times, however, and Sessions announced today that “we will not resign, we like our job.” (He, like Trump, didn’t describe himself in the third person but chose instead the royal “we”!)

If Trump makes good on his threat to fire Mueller he would actually have to get Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, to do it. If Sessions refused then Trump would have to fire Sessions and ask the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, to do it.

The problem there is that Trump also attacked Rosenstein yesterday, saying Rosenstein couldn’t be trusted to investigate the president because he was from Baltimore, a place that didn’t have many Republicans.

The president, we must remember, fired FBI Director Comey after Comey refused to pledge loyalty to Mr. Trump and stop the FBI investigation of General Flynn, Trump’s disgraced and fired national security adviser. Trump yesterday also attacked the interim FBI director, Andrew McCabe, who took over when the president fired Comey. Trump said both Mueller and McCabe were “running offices rife with conflicts of interest.”

Viewing the recusal of the attorney general or the refusal of an FBI chief to pledge loyalty as “unfair” to the president is, of course, absurd on its face – unless of course Trump is saying he needs investigators who will ignore any wrongdoing on his part and only examine what he (Trump) wants them to examine.

As the Times interview was getting out on the news yesterday Trump’s banking scandals were exploding onto the TV screens across the country. It is well known that Deutsche Bank has for some time been the only bank that would lend Trump any money. That bank has been fined hundreds of millions of dollars for laundering money for Russian gangsters and oligarchs, some of them connected to Putin but others running their own independent criminal empires.

The Times reported yesterday that Robert Mueller is asking the bank for information about various Trump accounts held by the bank. Money from some of the gangsters and oligarchs has gone into Trump properties in New York and elsewhere. Trump has sold properties to several of these individuals. Deutsche Bank is expected to hand over to Mueller the information he wants. So Trump, who must now really be worried, comes out and warns the special counsel not to look into his financial affairs! “Just stick with the Russian interference in the elections, Mr. Mueller. That’s the lane you should stay in. The president’s financial deals, even if they are criminal – why, that’s none of your concern!”

The sleazy side of Trump, including how fast he can be expected to throw you under the bus when he is done with you, was all too evident in the interview yesterday. Sessions is, of course, no angel. He is a long-time extreme right wing racist with ties to the Ku Klux Klan but he was an early supporter of Trump before anyone else in the GOP was backing his campaign. Yesterday Trump showed his gratitude when he told the Times that his attorney general had “lied to the Senate” about his (Sessions’s) Russian contacts. “He gave bad answers,” Trump said of Sessions’s testimony before the Senate.

So the sleazebag Sessions got his reward from his sleazebag boss: Trump came out nationally yesterday saying of Sessions that he wished he hadn’t hired him and that he was a liar who gave bad answers to the Senate.

None of that was enough for Trump, however, who then proceeded to actually attack the rule of law in the United States. He called for what would be an overhaul of government structure, insisting that the FBI should report directly to the president, not the attorney general and that it should become essentially an executive branch under him, Donald Trump.

As all that was getting out in the news there were new reports yesterday that Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was in debt to Russian gangsters and oligarchs to the tune of $17 million just before he took over as campaign manager.

Then still later in the day yesterday Trump castigated states that are refusing to send personal voter information into his “election integrity commission,” set up to try to essentially confirm the Trump lie that Hillary Clinton didn’t really win the popular vote by over 3,000,000 votes. What could possibly go wrong with President Trump keeping data on every American voter in a computer in his office in the White House? “What are the states trying to hide?” Trump asked yesterday as he tried to whip up support for his latest voter suppression scheme.

Does it all seem too crazy? Not if we have a president who believes he is above the law. Not if we have a president who seeks to control everything. Not if we have a president who has no regard for the Constitution, the truth, democracy, or the rule of law. Not if we have a president who is used to cavorting with gangsters to make, launder, and hide money. Not if we have a president who is an autocrat and a  criminal. Not if we have a president who is guilty of some pretty heavy stuff. What is it, exactly, that you are trying to hide, Mr. President?

The people have been demanding an answer since almost the day after Trump’s inauguration. Sooner or later the Congress will have to stand up and play its rightful role in ending the nightmare.


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.