Over time, Trump’s announced date for his ICE deportation raids to round up immigrants has changed in curious ways. Look at the timeline:

  • May-June: The media report that special counsel Robert Mueller is negotiating with House leaders about appearing before Congress.
  • June 17: Trump reveals that the raids would begin on June 23. Trump’s tweet announcing the raids surprises even ICE, which is charged with executing them.
  • June 22: Mueller’s agreement to testify still is not set. Trump delays the raids for what he says will be two weeksJuly 7. His nonsensical reason: to give Democrats in Congress a chance to come up with a solution to the mess he created at the southern border.
  • June 25: Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, announces that Mueller’s will appear and testify publicly on July 17.
  • July 6: As Trump’s initial two-week deadline of July 7 approaches, it morphs into an undefined “fairly soon.”
  • July 12: With Mueller set to testify on July 17, Trump announces that the raids will start on Sunday, July 14.

Whatever else may have motivated Trump, the raids were always a surefire way to dominate the news cycle and reduce whatever coverage Mueller might receive. Perhaps it was just a coincidence. But mastering the center ring of the media circus is Trump’s great strength.

Beware of What Comes Next

After Trump confirmed the raids on July 12, Nadler announced that Mueller’s congressional appearance would be delayed until July 24. As it turned out, the ICE raids were a bust. So on Monday, July 15, Trump launched racist tweets against four congresswomen. All of this is read meat for Trump’s base. But it also draws attention away from Mueller’s upcoming testimony on July 24.

Here’s my prediction: even more sensational distractions lie ahead. Do not underestimate the lengths to which Trump will go in avoiding public attention to — and a more complete understanding of — his Trump-Russia problems. He is using every tool that he and Attorney General William Barr can find to protect him.

And as Trump now likes to say, under Article 2 of the Constitution, those tools are formidable. He’s referring to Sections 1, 2 and 3. Section 4 provides for impeachment. The House controls that tool.

Here’s a complete list of the latest updates to the Trump-Russia Timeline at Dan Rather’s News & Guts and at Just Security:

BETWEEN JUNE 2015 AND NOVEMBER 2016: Russian Twitter Accounts Back Trump, Trump’s Poll Numbers Improve (revision of previous entry)

MAY 13, 2019: Barr Orders Another Review of Trump-Russia Investigation’s Origins (revision of previous entry)

JULY 2, 2019: Trump Tweets: Mueller Must Stick to His Report, As He Said He Would

JULY 4, 2019: Amash Leaves GOP; Trump Tweets ‘No Collusion, No Obstruction’ 

JULY 5, 2019: Donaldson Confirms Accuracy of Her Notes; White House Blocks Donaldson’s Efforts to Answering 212 Questions 

JULY 5, 2019: Trump Retweets Attacks on Mueller Investigation’s Origins, Impeachment

JULY 8, 2019: Trump Tweets: Mueller Appointment ‘Fundamentally Illegal’, ‘Witch Hunt’

JULY 8, 2019: Barr Says Mueller Appearance Will Be a ‘Public Spectacle’, Will Block Efforts to Subpoena Mueller’s Team Members

JULY 9, 2019: Sater Testifies Before House Intelligence Committee; Committee Slams Him for Being Uncooperative

JULY 9, 2019: Trump Retweets About Mueller Testimony as ‘Public Spectacle’

JULY 9, 2019: Flynn Won’t Testify in Suit Against His Former Business Partner

JULY 9, 2019: Trump Tweets Hannity Clips on Flynn, ‘Plot’ to ‘Frame Trump’; ‘Steele (FAKE) Story’

JULY 10, 2019: Trump Tweets and Retweets: ‘Dems Witch Hunt Continues’

JULY 11, 2019: House Judiciary Committee Subpoenas 12 People; Trump Lashes Out

JULY 12, 2019: Mueller Testimony Delayed

JULY 12-13, 2019: Trump Tweets and Retweets About Mueller, Clinton, ‘Witch Hunt’

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