Let’s Just Call It an Evidence-Based Intuition

agents provocateurs


Mulvaney says Trump didn’t lose shutdown battle: The acting chief of staff strived to put the best face on the situation, even as others doubled down on the notion that it was a setback for Trump and his policies.

To argue with a straight face—however much effort it may cost to straighten your face—that Trump didn’t lose the shutdown battle, you have to argue that he only agreed to a truce for negotiations, but that he will really, really shut the government down again if the negotiations don’t go his way. (Yeah, yeah. I know there’s the “state of emergency” gambit, but everyone knows that that rabbit in the hat is a paper tiger. The Federalist Society will not be amused.)

But taking that posture well and truly paints Trump into a corner. All he can do is veto any permanent or new temporary spending bill, and dare the Republicans to override his veto.

Result: Republican politicians are forced to rebel against Trump.

And What Does My Purported Evidence-Based Intuition Ascribe as Mulvaney’s Motive?

I think he’s, in essence, the agent of a plutocracy that has realized they have to get Trump off the stage, or risk the election of a liberal who will raise their taxes.

What’s It Worth to You?

I’m not betting the mortgage money on the agent provocateur thesis, but how about a nice steak dinner?

When You’re Smiling, the Whole World Smiles with You

William Barr

We have it on good authority that Mick Mulvaney—the person who would have sacrificed a valuable appendage to be Trump’s chief of staff—has vowed to be the kind of Trump servant who will just let Trump be Trump.

Meanwhile, a usually reliable pundit says, Now We Know Trump Picked William Barr to Shut Down Mueller’s Investigation. Well, in all probability, that was exactly Trump’s thinking. Barr’s gratuitous June, 2018, legal memorandum endorsing presidential obstruction of justice was surely music to the Trumpster’s ears.

And, at a very high level of confidence, I think we may infer that Barr wrote the memo for the precise purpose of pleasing Trump and laying the groundwork for his own nomination to be Attorney General.

But does the memo actually reflect Barr’s opinion? Well, maybe it does. Or maybe it doesn’t. Folks like William Barr seldom write legal memoranda out of a disinterested and generous desire just to share their wisdom with the world. They write legal memoranda to achieve a purpose.

Feel free to call me a conspiratologist, but I still think Barr, backed up by his hubristic buddies at Kirkland & Ellis, and operating in collusion with one or more Republican corporate and financial donors, is coming to Washington to get Trump out of the way. Most probably by organizing a Spiro Agnew-type deal where he resigns in exchange for a binding promise not to prosecute.

Such a denouement will be very difficult to achieve. But a great many of the deals on which K & E works present great challenges. That is why they make buckets of money.

And here, ladies and gentlemen, I detect the fine Italian hand of Kirkland & Ellis.

And, by the way, Mick Mulvaney is coming to the White House to be the Trump Whisperer—and to whisper him into taking the deal Barr will propose.

As I said, call me a conspiratologist. But remember, you heard it here first. And that he who laughs last, laughs best.

The Acting Chief of Staff

chief of staff

In case you missed it, you can go here to watch the new Acting White House Chief of Staff call Trump “a terrible human being.”

Given that he feels that way, it wise that “Mulvaney asked for the ‘acting’ bit to be in his title so he could leave the job quickly and say it was the plan all along.” And it is good that “Mulvaney has built a rapport with the president by bringing ‘large charts and colorful graphics into the Oval Office.’ Trump “may not grasp the underlying policy but appreciates the color and the movement.”