Today, the Mueller probe turns a year old, and with it, we're likely to see a lot of presidential tweeting- some of which has already begun- thanks apparently to a revised schedule. As the Hill notes in its morning email, "a joint press conference planned this afternoon disappeared from his overnight schedule." That means more "executive time," and thus more social media time.
But Trump tweeting about Mueller should not, in and of itself, be the most interesting news today related to the probe. One thing that might rank in the top five is this: Axios has new polling showing a small decline in the President's already sagging "tough enough for the job" numbers. And the President's response to the Mueller probe presents the possibility of those numbers dipping further.
As you can see, when Axios started its survey, only 36 percent of respondents thought Trump was "tough enough for the job." Now, that number has dipped to 33 percent- not much difference. But when you consider where Trump was starting from (just over a third of voters), it should be a concern, especially because with the one-year anniversary of the Mueller probe, the President has the ability to soften those numbers further simply by grabbing his phone and taking the same tone he has tended to regarding the probe in his public communications.
Pretty much everyone under the sun knows by now that Trump considers the probe a "witch hunt," in which he is the victim.
This is slightly odd, considering that no public evidence has emerged to suggest he has committed a crime for which Mueller would make a referral to Congress, and at least if you believe Rudy Giuliani, Mueller is not going to try to prosecute Trump directly, again, even assuming he has done anything prosecutable.
People who worked for Trump have clearly found themselves in legal trouble courtesy of Mueller, but in the case of Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and arguably George Papadopolous, these are people more in the realm of "clingers-on" than people within Trump's actual circle.
The result is that when the President takes to Twitter, and starts complaining about the probe, he looks weak- like a whiny victim.
Some of his voters may like that, since they see him as their avatar, someone who is being unfairly subjected to scrutiny the way they feel they have been unfairly subjected to discrimination, economic hardship, a loss of socio-economic status, or whatever else.
But for a lot of people, Trump's persistent whining about Mueller makes him look like a great, big wuss. And it's really hard to believe that after eight years of Obama, where a ton of Americans felt the President had allowed the country to go soft, and was a weakling, Trump's 33 percent "tough enough for the job" number declining further, as it presumably will the more he complains about Mueller and casts himself as the victim, stands the President in good political stead.
Right now, it may be hard for a lot of people to conceive of him being beaten in 2020, partly because we tend to give Presidents two terms in this country and also because we're comparing him against a cast of about 20 Democratic dwarves, none of whom have really defined themselves as prospective candidates, or attempted to. But at some point, that's going to change- and if I were working for Trump, that 33 percent, or 36 percent, number would bother me greatly; it might even bother me more than Trump's overall low approval ratings. It directly undermines what is probably Trump's biggest selling point as a candidate: At least during 2016, he looked like a tough guy ready to ride herd and crack skulls in order to get the job done, not like a whiny toddler. Looking like the latter isn't a real draw when we're talking about a Commander-in-Chief, which is what Trump is now, whether he ever truly wanted it or not.
The general speculation in Washington, D.C., seems to be that Mueller will start winding up his probe in the coming months so that he minimizes the risk of any impact on the 2018 midterm elections. While it's possible that won't happen (previous Special Counsels have been on the case for far longer than a year and a bit), unless Trump's Team is finding his Mueller chat to just be a highly valuable fundraising tool or something, he should quit the carping tweetstorms and focus on things like North Korea, the gravity of which situation he obviously understands deeply. And if this is all about fundraising, well, Trump should can the tweetstorms in that case because otherwise, he's basically behaving like every other stereotypical politician in the history of mankind. Trump's voters certainly didn't think they were voting for that in 2016.
Liz Mair is a strategist for the Swamp Accountability Project, a c4 organization that supports continuation of the Mueller probe as the most ruthlessly effective vehicle in Washington, D.C., for draining the swamp.