When news that the Justice Department had appointed Robert Mueller as a special counsel landed last night, the White House was reportedly as surprised as everyone else. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had only informed the president’s staff once the order was signed.
Whether that was true or simply spin, it didn’t last. Thursday morning, the president broke an unusually long Twitter silence to complain about how he had been mistreated:
With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special counsel appointed!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2017
(That tweet replacing an earlier one that misspelled "councel.")
This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2017
This administration has often struggled to coordinate messages—it offered three conflicting explanations for FBI Director James Comey’s firing in three days, and reportedly has not been helping congressional allies with talking points—but in this case, the message seems to have been shared, as Trump’s son Eric used a similar wording:
I was too! This entire thing is a witch hunt propagated by a failed political campaign. https://t.co/AhGBFdJjTI— Eric Trump (@EricTrump) May 18, 2017
This represents a return to the self-pitying note that Trump struck during a commencement address at the Coast Guard Academy on Wednesday. Trump has long since abandoned the tradition that remarks involving the military be nonpartisan, using them to reminisce about his victory in November. On Wednesday, he added gripes to his spiel:
Look at the way I’ve been treated lately, especially by the media. No politician in history—and I say this with great surety—has been treated worse or more unfairly. You can’t let them get you down. You can’t let the critics and the naysayers get in the way of your dreams. I guess that’s why we won.
The complaint is, in addition to be somewhat distasteful for the occasion—he did at least send graduates off with the command to “Enjoy your life”—historically dubious, notwithstanding Trump’s “great surety.”