Op-ed: Sweet revenge

  • By Bob Franken
  • Saturday, May 20, 2017 9:40pm
  • Opinion

Robert Kennedy like to quote his father Joe: “Don’t get mad, get even.” That mindset is very much alive in Washington a generation later. It certainly didn’t take Rod Rosenstein long to set things right.

Rosenstein was just two weeks into his job as President Donald Trump’s deputy attorney general when Trump set him up by ordering him to write the memo used as a pretext to fire FBI Director James Comey. Just a week later, though, we witnessed Rosenstein’s Revenge: He has appointed a special counsel, whose sole purpose will be to investigate and prosecute anything having to do, even remotely, with the accusation that Trump and his scary band of campaign workers colluded with the Russian government to sway the election Trump’s way.

Not only that, but the man he named is Robert Mueller, a former director of the FBI himself, with a sterling reputation as a no-nonsense public official, a relentless investigator. Mueller spells nothing but trouble for Donald Trump.

And we haven’t even gotten to Comey’s Revenge, which is already drawing blood soon after the Trumpster clumsily sacked Jim Comey and embarrassed himself by changing stories. Turns out, it had nothing to do with Rosenstein’s memo citing Comey’s clumsy handing of last year’s Hillary Clinton email controversy (yes, I know, the plot thickens). That’s the pretense White House aides peddled until the boss pulled the rug out from under them by suddenly stating in interviews that it was all about “this Russia thing.”

So Donald Trump shoved James Comey aside. Biiiiiig mistake. Huuuuuuge mistake. Jim Comey is not one to be shoved aside. What has followed is a serious drip, drip, drip of severely damaging stories about Trump and his conversations with Jim: President Trump demanded his loyalty, said an anonymous source (gee, who could that be?). Not so, said Donald, and then he went bonkers on Twitter: “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

Oopsie: Was POTUS really saying that the conversations were recorded? He and his gang weren’t saying, and small wonder. Capitol Hill was alive with the sounds of subpoena demands. Then the anonymous sources put out word that FBI Director Comey had written memos to the file after a conversations with the chief executive in which Trump suggested that he shut down the probe into Michael Flynn, who is at the heart of the whole Russian investigation. According to one of Comey’s contemporaneous memos, the exact words were: “I hope you can let this go.”

Was this obstruction of justice, a crime? What about the allegations that Russia and Trump’s people had conspired to manipulate the election? It cried for a special counsel, and Rosenstein heard the cries. He appointed, by all accounts, a really special special counsel in Mueller, and now the diligent investigation will get even more intense. Those who devoutly wish that Donald Trump would simply go away, however, will have to hold their breath a lot longer. These things take time, and Robert Mueller certainly is not careless. The Trump administration is a fact of life for the foreseeable future. The tweets will keep on coming. In his latest batch, following the Mueller appointment, @realDonaldTrump pecked: “This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!” He used the same words on camera just a day before he took his persecution complex and fled the country.

The “witch hunt” charge is difficult to prove or disprove, but in a fleeting period, the Trump presidency is historically weakened, and most of the wounds are self-inflicted. In time, we’ll find out if it’s just nasty amateurism that caused this or something worse — various crimes. For Donald Trump, it’s a valuable lesson, the kind that bullies, sooner or later, are forced to learn: Don’t attack someone who can hit back. Getting even is a way of life here. Even, and then some.

Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist, including 20 years at CNN.

More in Opinion

Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, speaks about teacher bonuses during consideration a bill increasing state funds for public education in the Alaska House of Representatives on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Rep. Ben Carpenter: Supporting better outcomes in education

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, listens to testimony during a Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee hearing on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Sen. Jesse Bjorkman: Managing Cook Inlet basin for the benefit of all

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, speaks Monday, May 8, 2023, on the floor of the Alaska House. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Rep. Justin Ruffridge: Time is growing short

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

Sarah Vance (Photo provided)
Point of View: A moment of agony for Sarah Vance, and for Homer

The emotions driving Sarah Vance to the brink of tears during her agonizing silence in front of the Legislature suggested a battle of ideas

The Alaska State Capitol. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: Millions needed for Alaska’s child care sector

Without public investment, Alaska will continue to witness an inadequate and diminishing supply of child care services

Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, speaks about teacher bonuses during consideration a bill increasing state funds for public education in the Alaska House of Representatives on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Rep. Ben Carpenter: Time to disrupt our legislative process

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, presents information on a bill establishing a voluntary buyback program for Cook Inlet’s east side setnet fishery on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Sen. Jesse Bjorkman: Fishing, energy move into spotlight

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, speaks in support of debating an omnibus education bill in the Alaska House Chambers on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024 in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Rep. Justin Ruffridge: Finding common ground on education

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, speaks to attendees at a town hall event on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023, in Nikiski, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Sen. Jesse Bjorkman: Taking action for workers, supporting kids

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

Most Read