WASHINGTON — We sense a storm brewing Sunday. A perfect storm.
You almost have to live here, in this snow-dusted spring, to feel the anxiety, hour by hour, day by day, over what President Trump will tweet or do next — like, congratulate Russian President Putin on his election victory. Trump ignored staff advice not to do that, because when a dictator wins, it's a "sham election."
The word is, Trump is making it up as he goes along, defying counsel from the few experts left in the White House after several spectacular exits. In a political "Romeo and Juliet" on the world stage, Trump and Putin plan to see each other again. Let the rest of us wonder why.
During the "recent unpleasantness," to borrow a British phrase, we have to hold on to faith. Conversations with friends, families, neighbors, therapists and total strangers often end with a hope — or a prayer — that "Bob Mueller will make the world right again." Robert Mueller, the straight arrow and special counsel in the Russian investigation, has become Washington's patron saint.
Democrats and Republicans, everyone loves Mueller — who's Old Testament severe. (He is a Republican and a former director of the FBI.) Gingerly, let me say Mueller may be a false hope for people serving a sentence in the wilderness. Someone else may step up as savior. Who could that be?
Mueller may be no match for a porn star poised to tell her story about an affair with Trump on CBS News "60 Minutes" Sunday. Nothing about the Trump presidency is conventional. If he goes, he will not go quietly, by the book or rule of law, as Richard Nixon did.
Hear me out. Stormy Daniels could save the republic. The sassy, savvy blonde may hoist Trump with his own petard. "I'm not going anywhere," she says. Now that would be sweet for the women Trump has grabbed, trash-talked or done wrong.
Daniels says she was paid $130,000 shortly before the 2016 election to stay mum about an affair 12 years ago, when Trump was newly married. (Trump's lawyer said he paid her the sum out of his own pocket.) Trump never signed the papers, so her lawyer argues she's free to tell the story.
Two other women are closing in on Trump on related legal fronts: former Playboy model Karen McDougal and "Apprentice" contestant Summer Zervos. Taken together, the three tales tell a pattern of a careless rich man who hits and runs with women, an armor of lawyers and cash in his wake.
Here we are in an uncharted realm.
For now, the American president is either an evil genius or a human faux pas, as he steps up attacks on his own Justice Department. He made no secret of his loathing for an FBI official, Andrew McCabe, fired in a fit of personalism. Not even embattled President Nixon vented so openly. Plainly, Trump aims to undermine Mueller's investigation into Russian influence on our 2016 election — and whether he was in on it.
This much we know: Russia tried to tip the election toward Trump. Does that make ours a "sham election?" Don't ask and ruin our reputation. Democracy, even the world's oldest, has to be watered and renewed after a hard winter.
All the cable chatter on whether and when Trump will have Mueller fired (as he did McCabe, by the Justice chain of command) only eggs him on, frankly. A constitutional crisis? No problem!
Surely Mueller will deliver the truth about Trump's shady dealings and deliver us from the scourge of his presidency. If he has obstructed justice, we'll know. This is what we tell ourselves. Watergate had a happy ending, right? Many cling to that memory.
Some fear the end will come too late, after Trump's wrecked our good name abroad and taken a sledgehammer to trade, environmental law and domestic policy. His war on the press and "fake news" land like shrapnel in the American public square.
The president plays politics like a street fighter. He will resist Mueller's probe, tooth and nail, abandoning sound advice to let it be. Trump should not be counted out.
Sunday's storm is when it gets interesting.
To find out more about Jamie Stiehm and other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonist, visit Creators.com.