US media shower Mueller with confetti as Trump exits to Middle East

America parties from Memorial Day weekend in the last week of May to Labor day in early September. For the pinch hitters of U.S. mainstream media, Robert Mueller’s appointment as a special counsel to oversee the F.B.I.’s investigation into possible collusion between Donald Trump’s 2016 Presidential campaign and the Russian government could not have come at a better time.

Shock and celebration rippled across newsrooms in America as the news sunk in. Not at Breitbart, though, which is standing firm on Trump’s side. Meanwhile at the White House, close Trump aides are reportedly advising Trump to hire an “outside lawyer” to deal with the landmines up ahead, there is word that the on-camera press briefing spectacles will take a backseat and crown prince Jared Kushner will oversee a Trump team overhaul with immediate effect.

Breathe easy and in parallel beware of dangerous times ahead, US media is telling Americans as the weekend arrives and Trump leaves for his longest stint away from Washington D.C after calling the Mueller appointment a “witch hunt”.

 US media shower Mueller with confetti as Trump exits to Middle East

Breathe easy, America, say US media/ AP

Trump will travel to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Italy and Belgium on his first foreign trip as president, starting Friday.

"This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!" Trump wrote on Twitter before he heads to the Middle East to tangle with leaders of the Muslim world.

“There’s no collusion between, certainly, myself and my campaign — but I can only speak for myself — and the Russians — zero,” Trump told reporters.

Newswire AFP explains the role of a special counsel like Mueller in the wide arc of American political history: “One of the best known special prosecutors was Archibald Cox, named to lead the Watergate investigation that led to Richard Nixon's resignation in 1974. Nixon wanted Cox fired after he issued subpoenas for copies of taped conversations Nixon made in the Oval Office. Attorney General Elliot Richardson refused to fire Cox, and resigned. His deputy William Ruckelshaus did the same in what came to be known as the "Saturday Night Massacre.””

The New York Times warns readers of uncertain times ahead, of government gridlock and emergencies, it rewinds to a time when Nixon’s presidency was on cliff edge and he was drinking heavily, unable to bear the strain of what was to come.

“I hope that cabinet members are keeping one another’s cellphone numbers handy in case an emergency meeting becomes necessary for our nation", writes Nicholas Kristoff in the NYT.

After months of scoops that simply refused to dent Trump’s standing, the Russia gloop has finally stuck but that just one reason the media are celebrating. That the legal system is working like its most ardent believers expect it to and America’s checks and balances are whirring into action is what the press corps is delighted about.

Closure is another reason.

The prospect of a legitimate investigation is getting a bear hug. “And while Trump may not know it, the special counsel has offered his flailing presidency a lifeline,” reports The Denver Post. After all, what if Mueller finds nothing. 

“Ultimately, though, the big news here is that an independent figure will take over a criminal probe that could well determine the fate of Trump’s Presidency. In firing Comey after allegedly pressing him to drop the Flynn investigation, Trump grossly abused his power, and launched a serious attack on the institutions of American democracy. On Wednesday, one of those institutions—the Justice Department—struck back. And that is something to be very grateful for”, says a New Yorker analyis.

Despite the flames licking at The White House front door, Trump’s voters are nervy but not throwing in the towel yet. For six months, Bloomberg tracked a group of Trump supporters from the four key states that swung the election — and as yet, “no signs of remorse”.

Yet,  it's also true that 24 hours is a lot on Planet Trump.

Even those who were saying that impeachment is a liberal fantasy and little else are now saying it is not impossible. But 77 percent of Republicans approve of Trump's performance, according to the most recent Reuters/Ipsos survey, a figure that has stayed relatively steady since his inauguration.

If Mueller finds real dirt on the President, the Republicans still with Trump may bend. If Democrats capture the House of Representatives in 2018, they may vote to impeach Trump.

For Trump's defenders though, the deepening White House turmoil is politics as usual, spun by the same "fake news" factories that lost the plot when Trump won the 2016 election.

Small difference this time is that the strike has come from within, it's Trump's Justice Department that has appointed Robert Mueller, the insurgent in the White House has competition.

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Updated Date: May 19, 2017 05:19:33 IST