Donald Trump Knows Walls Are Closing In As Mueller Report Looms, Ex-Presidential Adviser Says

A former presidential adviser said President Donald Trump's bombastic weekend appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference was that of a man "seeing the walls close in."

David Gergen, who adivsed Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, told CNN on Sunday that Trump was clearly troubled by the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, as well as the intensifying congressional oversight driven by new Democratic House majority.

Trump delivered a rambling two-hour speech at CPAC on Saturday, attacking a range of opponents and saving special vitriol for the Mueller inquiry and the Democrats intensified scrutiny of his inner circle, private business dealings and presidential conduct.

CNN host Ana Cabrera asked Gergen, who is a senior political analyst for CNN, "Do you see the candidate who was impervious to scandal, or do you see someone who is now really feeling the walls close in?"

Gergen replied, "I think it's the man seeing the walls close in." But despite the president's beleaguered position, Gergen said he still thought that Trump believed he might be able to survive the Mueller investigation, now reported to be in its final stages.

"I think underlying that is a view that, on his part, that maybe he will get through the Mueller investigation with a reasonably clean bill of health," he said. "Nobody knows for sure yet."

Congressional committees have already begun their own investigations of the president and his closest associates. But even if the Mueller report does not prove fatal to Trump, its findings will likely offer Democrats ammunition and new avenues of investigation.

"The Democrats are now preparing to pounce in the House with a series of investigations to explore the 'underlying evidence. There are six different House committees now that are preparing to investigate," Gergen said, and they intend to do what former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen did in testimony in front of the House Oversight and Reform Committee last week.

"And that was to present to the public a portrait of what's been going on under this president, both in his business and in his campaign, as well as in his presidency, and let the public then decide whether some punishment needs to be meted out," Gergen said. "It may well be that's really directed at the 2020 election, to prepare the people to vote against Trump in 2020."

Later in the discussion, Gergen focused on the significance of the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, which more than 40 years ago drove the investigation that eventually toppled President Richard Nixon.

Nadler told ABC News on Sunday that the committee would seek documents and information from at least 60 people linked to Trump. Nadler said the requests would allow the committee to "begin investigations, to present the case to the American people about obstruction of justice, about corruption and abuse of power."

Gergen noted that House committees "have a long history" but warned that the Democrats must not "overplay their hands.

"You know, there are a lot of people in this country who say, listen, if Mueller didn't find anything, why the hell are we going to have more and more investigations? Aren't you just trying to—isn't this just a fishing expedition? I think they have to be careful to lay out a persuasive case of why they're taking—undertaking each one of these investigations," he told Cabrera.

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President Donald Trump speaks during at CPAC 2019 on March 2, 2019 in National Harbor, Maryland. Former presidential adviser David Gergen said the speech was one of a man who “seeing the walls close in.” Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images