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GOP senses pattern: Trump vents, then damaging leaks emerge

Andrew Harnik / AP

Republicans are seizing on a familiar — and for them, distressing — pattern: when President Trump applies unconventional or inappropriate pressure to "independent" public officials, his intervention is often followed by damaging leaks.

About an hour after the Washington Post broke the story Wednesday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice, I started hearing from Republicans who are starting to draw a straight line from Trump's undisciplined venting to damaging leaks.

Text message from a GOP operative close to the White House: "Leak was probably a response to stories about POTUS firing Mueller. Can't fire him now."

Why this matters: We don't know where the Post got their leak or what the motivations were behind it, but we do know why former FBI director James Comey leaked memos of his private conversations with the President. Comey said in his public testimony that when Trump tweeted about possibly having "tapes" of a critical conversation with Comey — the contents of which Trump disputes — the former FBI director felt it was urgent to get his contemporaneous accounts of the conversations into the public sphere. He thought it might lead to the appointment of a special counsel (which it did.)

Bottom line: Had Trump kept his mouth shut and his thumbs away from his iPhone, he'd be in a much safer space.