People are always asking me how this whole Russia investigation is going to end. As someone who has been in and around a lot of trouble over the years, I have tried to develop a feel for how chaotic situations in Washington will play out. And these days, everyone - from major corporations to late-night television viewers - are trying to make sense of the Trump presidency. They want to know why each day seemingly produces a new controversy, followed by one train wreck story after another. But these are unpredictable times, and there is no easy explanation.
When it comes to the controversy surrounding Russia, there are two big unknowns that even the best political analysts have a tough time navigating through.
First, no one knows what additional information has yet to be discovered. Regarding FBI Director James Comey’s firing, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said, “This is a centipede. I guarantee you there will be more shoes to drop.” Well, how long is the centipede and from how high are the shoes being dropped?
Second, no one knows what President Trump is going to do at any given moment to add a new dimension to the investigation or, at the very least, a new angle to the nonstop coverage about a story for which there has yet to be any credible evidence of collusion with the Russians.
I have always said: In Washington, being innocent is just an advantage, but it is not determinative. And being guilty is just a disadvantage, it is not determinative. There is no evidence to suggest that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians, there is no good reason for why it would choose to do so in the first place and no one has even explained what crimes members of the campaign would be charged with had they colluded with Russians, Martians or anyone else for that matter. So far, they have the advantage of being innocent.
The fact is, Comey should have been fired long ago.
And while the idea of canceling White House briefings is more frightening than useful, the idea of tweeting and talking less is worthwhile; especially if the administration is not able or prepared to take the time to form a proper communications plan anchored by the truth on any given matter.
So, how does this play out?
At the end of the day, everything we have seen thus far comes down to the man in the Oval Office. Trump has plenty of able people around him, but they are handicapped by not knowing what is coming next or what the facts are. They too often learn what the truth is from the media after already staking out wildly inaccurate positions.
In the coming weeks and months, more will be revealed about Trump’s dinner with Comey and the construction of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s memo, let alone the four or five new Oval Office-created tributaries flowing into the widening “Russia story.”
Case in point, while I was writing this piece about the president’s unpredictability, Trump tweeted: “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”
In a scandal that so far is lacking a crime, now we may be getting close. In some jurisdictions, taping conversations without the consent of both parties is illegal. Regardless, there is now going to be an intense effort to either reveal the tapes or get confirmation that they do not exist.
Again, this White House - and the American people - would be best served if Trump put a hold on his tweets, let the process work and allowed stories to fade. Until that happens, the Russia controversy will not end and someone may wander into a crime and change America’s course forever.
Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush White Houses and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour in 1991.