Over the weekend, President Trump couldn’t lay off Twitter. Instead, he decided to slam the FBI for its investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. He began with a series of attacks on deputy director Andrew McCabe, and concluded with an attack on the so-called Steele Dossier, a compilation of apparent truths and half-baked fiction that may have served as the underlying reason behind the FBI’s original investigation.
There’s little question that McCabe has been compromised — and there’s a good case he should recuse himself from the case. McCabe’s wife did indeed run for a state senate seat in Virginia, supported heavily with Democratic money; McCabe may have been specifically referenced in texts by Peter Strzok, an FBI investigator who suggested that he had an “insurance policy” against Trump’s win. Here was the content of that text:
I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.
Baker, too, had been removed for supposed political ties.
As far as the dossier, McCabe testified before Congressional investigators that the chief claims of the Steele dossier hadn’t been verified beyond Trump foreign policy aide Carter Page’s travel to Moscow. According to Fox News:
The sources said that when asked when he learned that the dossier had been funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, McCabe claimed he could not recall – despite the reported existence of documents with McCabe’s own signature on them establishing his knowledge of the dossier’s financing and provenance.
McCabe deserves all the criticism he’s receiving — and so does an investigation that has been this compromised from so many angles. But Trump is making an enormous strategic mistake to lead the charge. By doing so, it looks as though he’s fulminating because he’s guilty, even though he’s likely fulminating for precisely the opposite reason. Trump has little to fear from the Mueller investigation at this point, since it seems as though it’s nearly all smoke and no fire — and it seems that all that smoke is coming from peripheral figures surrounding Trump himself. But if Trump can’t let it go, he’s counter-productively putting himself in the crosshairs of the media and of an obstruction investigation.