Conrad Black: ‘Mueller Investigation Has Been Incompetent, Partisan’
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller, former media baron Conrad Black blasted the Robert Mueller investigation and says President Donald Trump doesn’t need to fire the special counsel.
“I don’t think there is much danger of Trump being impeached and almost none of his being removed. He could justify firing Mueller, but I think his present tactic is better: cooperating but remarking almost every day that the Mueller investigation has been incompetent, partisan, that it has failed to find anything and is becoming ever more desperate.”
Black, who is promoting his latest book “Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other,” also says Trump is exactly what America needs at the moment and is a welcome departure from what the GOP has served up since Ronald Reagan. “The Republicans had, in policy terms, been lifeless and useless since Reagan…The Bushes were almost inert, McCain was vague, and Romney was a consultant who faced in all four directions on every issue,” Black told TheDC.
He dismissed Never Trumpers who don’t think the president is an authentic conservative voice. “His policy proposal were all moderate and sensible and could have come from the main sensible conservative think-tanks,” Black said.
When asked if Trump will ultimately be considered a “great” president, Black responded, “At this stage, I would say unusually capable, with Jefferson, Jackson, Polk, TR, Wilson, Truman, Eisenhower, and Nixon; not right at the top with Washington, Lincoln, FDR, and Reagan.”
A transcript of the interview follows:
Conrad Black, Lord Black of Crossharbour, is a former multinational media mogul, the author of 10 books, a regular contributor to the National Post newspaper that he founded and a noted cross-border commentator on conservative politics. He was the first Canadian-born pundit to endorse Donald Trump’s candidacy for the Republican Party presidential nomination and predicted that nominee Trump would become President Trump. In an interview with Daily Caller Ottawa Bureau Chief David Krayden, Black discussed his newly-released book, “Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other.”
DC: Why did you write “Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other” and do you think it is being released at a particularly significant time?
CB: I don’t think there is a concise and balanced treatment of Donald Trump as a biographical subject, nor a serious analysis of how he won the election. His attack was so strenuous on the whole system and so shocked the bi-partisan political class, that most books about him are rabidly hostile and unrigorous, like most media, and there was room for a serious explanation of who Trump is and how he became president and that is what the publisher requested.
DC: You write, “The Democrats have had no policy for some years except to denigrate their opponents, and try to bribe and anesthetize a comatose lumpenproletariat addicted to state benefit.” Do you see President Donald Trump as the last, best hope for America moving away from the European-style (and too often, Canadian-style) socialism that Obama introduced?
CB: Yes, The Republicans had, in policy terms, been lifeless and useless since Reagan-no position on immigration, trade, taxes, and only a somewhat more purposeful foreign policy and lip service to stimulus to economic growth and job creation. The Bushes were almost inert,McCain was vague, and Romney was a consultant who faced in all four directions on every issue.
DC: Of Trump you contend, “He is not, in fact, a racist, sexist, warmonger, hothead, promoter of violence, or a foreign or domestic economic warrior. No opposition can continue on this name-calling basis alone for much longer than this one has.” Do you see the name-calling ending when the Mueller probe sputters to a conclusion? Will there ever be any tacit acceptance by the Democratic “resistance” that Trump is their legitimate president too?
CB: I think the process of verbal de-escalation has already begun. Jeff Greenfield, David Brooks, John Podhoretz, Rich Lowry and others are already starting to separate their objections to Trump’s personality from their agreement with some of his policies, and the president’s approval rating is rising quite steadily while the credibility of his tormenters, accusers, and investigators is eroding steadily. I see no reason for this trend not to continue for a time. Leaks and personnel changes in the senior administration are becoming much less frequent.
DC: You exhibited some courage in endorsing Trump’s candidacy and a particular prescience in suggesting he could win the presidency when virtually no other prominent conservative commentator either though so or was willing to say so. What was it that told you Trump could be “a durable and effective president” as you put it?
CB: His policy proposal were all moderate and sensible and could have come from the main sensible conservative think-tanks, apart from the rather extreme espousals of tighter law enforcement and more draconian sentencing. Those issues and the somewhat related matters of immigration rallied a large number of disaffected working class people, and frightened the left and was considered an easy target by the Democratic strategists and most of the media. But the balance of Trump’s program-taxes, environment, trade, foreign policy, was sensible and bound to score with a large share of the middle class. It seemed to me that Clinton would run up huge majorities in California, metropolitan New York and Chicago, but that Trump would lead in the balance of the country and was unlikely to have a very large plurality except in Texas, but could easily carry the electoral college with solid but not landslide wins in a lot of key states, which is effectively what happened. His performance in the Republican primaries showed that he was pulling a lot of votes that had not been cast in recent elections. I was particularly impressed when he took 49% in a six-candidate Republican primary race in very liberal Massachusetts, and pulled the Republican vote in the Pennsylvania primary to about 98% of the Democratic total although that was a close contest between Clinton and Sanders-there are usually many more Democratic votes there.
DC: During the Vietnam War-era the phrase “ugly American” captured the aggressive, culturally-chauvinistic stereotype that some Canadians believed in. Do you think for those Canadians today — and in particular the Canadian media — Trump embodies that “ugly American” that they have both feared and admired for so long?
CB: Yes and for many Americans and Europeans also. Up until recently, those repulsed by that sort of person have only seen the negative side of Trump, but as the economy strengthens and the Korean policy seems to be working, and he has gained control of the Republican congressional party, people are starting to see the competent side of that sort of American in Trump as well.
DC: Trump continues to be vilified by the Canadian media. Even the conservative outlets are reluctant to dwell on his obvious successes but present the Democratic talking points that this is a White House replete with chaos and scandal. You called Trump a “throwback to Reagan” in your book because he “rejects the chic defeatism of the establishment.” Is he also a throwback to Reagan because leftist Canadians cannot understand Trump’s appeal?
CB: I think so, but more because the Canadian media are so lazy and incompetent, they just follow their American analogues. At least Americans generally prefer their president to be someone they approve of, but in the case of Trump, most of them had drunk the Kool Aid that he was a primitive and repressive and unqualified and even dangerous figure, but there is some reluctance to be so hostile to the president. Canadians like to imagine American presidents are fools or reckless and unserious, and Canadian media are even less enterprising than American, so they just took the worst tone of U.S. media Trumpophobia and amplified it with Canadian snobbery and complacent affectation.
DC: You discuss Trump’s use of the social media in your book and compare it to FDR’s willingness to utilize the radio to communicate directly with Americans. Yet newspapers weren’t offended by Roosevelt’s fireside chats the way the mainstream media is horrified by Trump’s tweets. Do CNN and their ilk fear their own demise every time Trump visits his Twitter account?
CB: I wouldn’t say that. But the tenor of FDR’s fireside chats was always smooth and plausible and reassuring-never fierce or partisan. Trump, especially in early months of his regime, was often belligerent and insulting on Twitter and replied very strenuously to media hostility to him. Roosevelt enjoyed the support of the so-called working press throughout his four terms. So the comparison is accurate as taking advantage of recent technology, but in a very different political atmosphere and for different purposes. FDR used the radio to reassure and DT uses Twitter to blast his enemies, though, again, his tweets are becoming much less belligerent.
DC: Trump has arguably been assiduously patient throughout the Mueller investigation. Given the political agenda inherent in this probe and given that it has yet to come up with a shred of evidence that Trump colluded with the Russians, would Trump be justified in firing Mueller and would it really be an impeachable offense if he did so, as some Republican senators have suggested?
CB: I don’t think there is much danger of Trump being impeached and almost none of his being removed. He could justify firing Mueller, but I think his present tactic is better: cooperating but remarking almost every day that the Mueller investigation has been incompetent, partisan, that it has failed to find anything and is becoming ever more desperate (Stormy Daniels-as if she has anything to do with Russian collusion), and just mock and insult and tear Mueller down as the FBI is exposed as virtually the dirty tricks division of the DNC, yet leaving no room for his enemies to accuse him of obstruction or any unconstitutional behavior. Mueller will have to either give up, turn his interest to the Democratic relations with the Russians, or face the complete withering of public support for his investigation. Trump has played it very well-but it helps when there’s no there there.
DC: Why are so many Democrats obsessed with Russia today to the point of advocating a military confrontation when many of these same people urged accommodation with the Soviet Union?
CB: They’re grasping at straws and Russia’s a convenient enemy-a sinister past but not now a serious rival, so let’s pretend there really is something bad going on involving them. It’s quite silly.
DC: Do you think Trump will rate as a great president if he is allowed to complete his work?
CB: At this stage, I would say unusually capable, with Jefferson, Jackson, Polk, TR, Wilson, Truman, Eisenhower, and Nixon; not right at the top with Washington, Lincoln, FDR and Reagan.
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