Mike Pence has had just about enough, consarn it.
Asked by NBC's Andrea Mitchell whether he agrees with President Trump that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation is a "hoax," the vice president dodged the question, but said in his signature more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger tone, "In the interest of the country, I think it's time to wrap it up."
Because if the last week of news has demonstrated anything, it's that investigating Donald Trump and his associates is pointless, so honest and ethical are they.
Granted, we did just learn that the president was lying when he said he didn't know anything about his "personal lawyer" (aka bagman) Michael Cohen paying adult film actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about the affair she says she had with him; Trump's other "lawyer," Rudy Giuliani, admitted on television that Trump reimbursed Cohen for the hush money. And we also learned that in 2017 Cohen received millions of dollars from corporations looking to influence federal government policy, which they claim was simply because they were desperate to avail themselves of Cohen's deep expertise in areas like health-care policy and accounting procedures. And Cohen was paid $500,000 by a company connected to a Russian billionaire with ties to Vladimir Putin, which says it hired him as "a business consultant regarding potential sources of capital and potential investments in real estate and other ventures."
But come on. Isn't it obvious that there's no there there? Why do we have to keep asking questions?
If you think it's hard for Republicans to say that with a straight face now, just wait, because it's only going to get worse.
Let's not forget that Mueller has been quietly proceeding with his investigation, leaking almost nothing (whenever you read details of what he's doing, the leak comes from somewhere else), assembling evidence and turning witnesses. There are surely many things Mueller has learned that the public has yet to be informed of. But at some point, perhaps later this year or early next, he will indeed wrap it up.
There will probably be a blizzard of indictments, which will themselves tell much of the story of what Mueller has learned. He'll also deliver a final report to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the investigation. Rosenstein could keep it secret, but the pressure to make it public, at least the parts that aren't classified or covered by secret grand jury proceedings, will be overwhelming. In all likelihood, much of what Mueller has learned will be delivered to Congress, which will then tell the rest of us. And that's not to mention investigations by other prosecutors like the U.S. attorney in New York, who is going after Cohen, or the congressional investigations Democrats will conduct if they take back the House or Senate.
And what will Republicans say when all that comes to a head? They've already been road-testing some of their excuses:
"Michael Cohen? Trump barely knows the guy."
This is Trump's own hilarious line, one that's sure to be echoed by his supporters once Cohen is led away in handcuffs, as now seems all but inevitable. When Trump called in to Fox & Friends two weeks ago, he said of his former factotum, "I don't know his business. But this doesn't have to do with me. Michael is a businessman, he's got a business. He also practices law, I would say probably the big thing is his business, and they're looking at something having to do with his business. I have nothing to do with his business." Right.
"The Russians didn't change the election results, so none of it matters."
This has been a regularly repeated argument and one they'll be using again: As long as we don't have definitive proof that Hillary Clinton would have won in 2016 had it not been for Russian meddling, including their copious contacts with members of the Trump team, then it's all irrelevant. Which is like Lance Armstrong saying, "Sure, I was doping, but I would have won anyway, so no harm no foul."
"Everybody does it."
Whether it's getting dirt on your opponent from agents of the Kremlin, taking what sure look like bribes, or even paying paramours to zip their lips, we've heard again and again that it's all standard practice. This is just how the rich and powerful operate, so there's no need for any legal consequences. As Trump said, agreements to pay six-figure amounts to people who claim (Falsely! Falsely!) that they had affairs with you is "very common among celebrities and people of wealth."
"It's the FBI and the Justice Department that are corrupt."
Trump, you see, is the real victim here. He's just an honest businessman and committed public servant trying to do his best for the country, while a deep state conspiracy of Democratic partisans in law enforcement go after him with their phony investigations.
"Obstruction? No, it's just 'fighting back.'"
This is an argument Trump has made; in his eloquent words, "The Russia Witch Hunt is rapidly losing credibility […] So now the Probe says OK, what else is there? How about Obstruction for a made up, phony crime.There is no O, it's called Fighting Back." I picture a gaggle of rosy-cheeked 22-year-old boys in khakis, blue blazers, and MAGA hats outside the White House chanting, "Hey, ho, there is no O!"
"We need to move on. You know, for the country."
This will be a favorite of Mike Pence's, I'm sure. Whatever crimes were committed, however far-reaching the scandal turns out to be, whatever revelations come, Trump's acolytes will say: "Okay, now the investigation is over, so let's just put it behind us. We could dwell on all the people who went to jail or all of Trump's misdeeds, but what good would it do? If you really care about America, you'll never speak of this again."
That's just some of what we'll hear from Trump and his defenders when it all hits the fan. And it will be even more ridiculous than it is now.