The New York Times put up a pretty good story on Tuesday about how President Donald Trump strongly considered firing Robert Mueller back in December when it was reported by multiple outlets that Mueller was looking into the Trump Organization’s dealings with Deutsche Bank. At the time, many reporters wondered specifically if the new phase of the special counsel’s inquiry would be enough to exceed Trump’s “red line” – the warning shot at Mueller he fired last year when asked about the possibility that he would begin looking into his personal and business finances. And if the reporting in the latest Times story is accurate, it seems that Trump was very ready to take action.
What’s remarkable (and predictably downplayed by the Times story) is that Trump was pacified only when Mueller’s team assured the president’s lawyers that these Deutsche Bank stories were…well, fake news.
“In the hours that followed Mr. Trump’s initial anger over the Deutsche Bank reports, his lawyers and advisers worked quickly to learn about the subpoenas, and ultimately were told by Mr. Mueller’s office that the reports were not accurate, leading the president to back down,” the Times reports. “The articles that provoked Mr. Trump’s anger in December — which were published by Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal and Reuters — said one of Mr. Mueller’s subpoenas had targeted Mr. Trump’s and his family’s banking records at Deutsche Bank.
“The lawyers were also able to learn that federal prosecutors in a different inquiry had issued a subpoena for entities connected to the family business of Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner,” the report continues. “The news outlets later clarified the articles, saying that the subpoena to Deutsche Bank pertained to people affiliated with Mr. Trump, who was satisfied with the explanation and dropped his push to fire Mr. Mueller.”
The thrust of the Times story is, of course, that OMG TRUMP HAS IT IN HIM TO FIRE ROBERT MUELLER! This is supposed to be very chilling to readers who have been trained to believe that Mueller has a boundless mandate to investigate everything Trump has done from the time he was four years old, but it fails to raise any particular hairs on our necks. As far as we’re concerned, after Monday’s outrageous escapade into Michael Cohen’s private affairs, Trump is taking a big risk every day he allows this farce of an investigation to continue.
What we’re really interested in is the fact that three major news outlets printed this botched story from December, which in turn nearly led to the Mueller firing that every liberal is dreading. We’re interested because while we recall those stories, we don’t remember the corrections that supposedly followed. But that’s the way the news works. The story spreads, the correction dies on the vine. That’s why it’s so important for news organizations to get their facts straight BEFORE they go to print.
But they don’t, which is one of the reasons fake news has become so damn prevalent. And, as this Times story proves, the consequences of that reckless approach to journalism can reach the highest levels of government.