The Mueller report puts a spotlight on the composite nature of the Trump presidency, which is a constant negotiation between Trump and his aides about what decisions are. The question whether they are truly final and what they truly mean is always up for grabs, with Trump getting his way when his aides agree with him, but not necessarily when they don’t, at least not for long.
I was annoyed and at times alarmed at the notion of “The Committee to Save America,” the national-security aides who considered part of their job checking the president. We have one president at a time, and no one elected any of these people. But during the Russia investigation, “The Committee to Save the Trump Presidency from Trump” was very active and right every single time. It had a big membership, including Cory Lewandowski, Rick Dearborn, K. T. McFarland, Chris Christie, Don McGahn, and Jeff Sessions, who ignored or defied the president and kept him from making even more mistakes, perhaps presidency-threatening ones.
Most of us learned from 2016 that the smart, or “smart,” conventional advice isn’t always correct, and Trump got elected in part by ignoring it. But in this episode the conventional view was absolutely correct. All Trump had to do was take the lawyerly advice to keep his mouth shut and wait out the investigation and Mueller truly would have had absolutely nothing.