I do actually believe the shutdown is about building a wall. But not between the United States and Mexico.
Quick Quiz: What huge Trumpian issue that has dominated the news for most of the last two years has suddenly disappeared as if sucked down a black hole? Anybody remember the names Robert Mueller? Michael Flynn? Paul Manafort? Michael Cohen? Anybody remember the Special Counsel investigation into collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and the Russian government and a potential obstruction of justice charge against Trump himself?
Anybody remember the dozens of indictments against Donald Trump’s associates, advisors and aides? The continuing news stories that investigators could be closing in on Donald, Ivanka, and Don Jr.?
What happened to those news stories?
In truth they’ve been shoved behind a big concrete wall of stories about a government shutdown, 800,000 Federal workers furloughed or working without pay for weeks, Donald Trump crossing his arms and standing his ground that the government will stay shut down for years if necessary if he doesn’t get $5.6 billion for his wall, and House Democrats responding that he’ll get not a penny. Or at least not 560 billion pennies.
So where does this leave the Mueller investigation besides out of the 24-hour news cycle and subsequently the minds of Americans?
Bonus Question: Who are the worker bees that carry out the Mueller Investigation? Which agency gathers the information, collates it and turns it over to the Special Investigator’s team for adjudication?
Answer: The Federal Bureau of Investigation. And which investigative Federal law-enforcement government agency has been shut down and will continue to be shut down until funds are appropriated for its continued operation? Bingo.
Granted, FBI agents, like airport Transportation Security Agency agents, are as a rule highly dedicated individuals who so firmly believe in the importance of their mission that they continue to carry out this mission even without pay. But for how long? In the past few days hundreds of TSA airport screeners have been calling in sick for work. How long until they all start getting sick of trying to put food on the table, pay their mortgages and doctor’s bills, take care of their families, their children, live without a paycheck? How long until this sickness starts hitting FBI agents, including those working on the Mueller investigation?
Donald Trump blithely tossed out that the shutdown could go on for months or years. How many months or years would it take to starve the Mueller Investigation of its starving FBI agents?
And so this shutdown may be politically bad for Donald Trump, though maybe not too bad if it rallies and excites his base, but it could also save him from a potential indictment if it causes not only breakdown in the government agency that’s moving his investigation along, but such a grave national crisis that there’s no time or resources to spend on a Special Investigation. This shutdown is buying Donald Trump time, maybe all the time he needs.
Not that Congress couldn’t put an end to the shutdown and all the suffering it’s engendered among the population, not only among those who are struggling to exist without a paycheck but those who are suffering from the loss of services of the government agencies that have been shut down for weeks now. Here’s how it ends: The House approves the same budget that received bipartisan approval last year. The Senate approves the budget by a 60-vote, Presidential veto-proof margin. The Federal Government gets back to work. The workers get their paychecks.
But Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he won’t allow a Senate vote on a budget that Donald Trump won’t sign. Because Mitch McConnell has hitched his wagon to Donald Trump’s star. Or rather, Donald Trump’s Wall.
But it isn’t a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. It’s a wall between Donald Trump and his just desserts.