This could help explain why Trump says he's not considering firing Mueller, for now.
The political news media are crowing about Donald Trump's assurance that he's not considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller, but new reporting suggests that condition could be very, very temporary.
During a brief talk with reporters upon his return from Camp David Sunday, Trump was asked if he is considering firing Mueller, to which he replied "No, I'm not."
Trump delivered a nearly identical answer to that question in October, and since then, Mueller has crossed Trump's "red line" by subpoenaing Trump financial records, so there is little reason to be reassured by Trump's answer.
Trump's response is also rendered meaningless by the fact that he can't fire Mueller directly, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — the man who does have the power to fire Mueller — has said he sees no cause to do so.
None of this means that Trump won't try, though. According to new reporting by CNN, Trump has been telling confidants that he expects Mueller to clear him "soon," and write a letter to that effect. Trump's absurd belief, stoked by his legal team, stunned at least one confidant:
"The President's mantra is 'All this Russia stuff, it's all going to wrap up soon.' He repeats it as fact," said one source who speaks to Trump. "Part of me is like -- 'Are you serious? You believe this?'"
The report goes on to say that Trump's fragile sense of well-being will reach a crucial inflection point this week when his lawyers meet with Mueller's team. Unless the result of that meeting is confirmation of Trump's fantasy (it won't be), those close to Trump expect he will lose it:
Three sources familiar with the President's recent conversations about the investigation said Trump has become convinced that he will receive a letter of exoneration, which would be unusual. One source worried Trump would have a "meltdown" if that doesn't happen.
"He'll try and fire Mueller and then be impeached," this person predicted.
If Mueller busts Trump's bubble this week, then Trump will be faced with a dilemma that we all share: Do Republicans really have the courage to hold Trump accountable if he orchestrates this final act of obstruction?