I’ve been predicting all along that Donald Trump is going to try to fire Robert Mueller at some point. Despite his attorneys continually praising Mueller’s work in their responses, I still believe that’s going to happen. Jonathan Chait agrees.
He begins by running down what has happened with the Roy Moore situation, where the initial reaction from the Republicans was to abandon him. Every major Republican leader called on him to drop out, Trump shunned him, the RNC and NRSC both pulled their financial and logistical support of his campaign, and there was open talk about refusing to seat him if he won the election. It lasted all of two weeks or so before they completely reversed course, changed to the “let the people of Alabama decide” position and started supporting his campaign again. He views that as a model for what is about to happen on Mueller.
The administration and its allied media organs, especially those owned by Rupert Murdoch, have spent months floating a series of rationales, of varying degrees of implausibility, for why a deeply respected Republican law-enforcement veteran is disqualified to lead the inquiry: He is friends with James Comey, who is biased because Trump fired him; Comey is biased because he pursued leads turned up in Christopher Steele’s investigation, which was financed by Democrats; Mueller has failed to investigate Hillary Clinton’s marginal-to-nonexistent role in a uranium sale.The newest pseudo-scandal fixates on the role of Peter Strzok, an FBI official who helped tweak the language Comey employed in his statement condemning Clinton’s email carelessness and has also worked for Mueller.
His alleged crime is a series of text messages criticizing Trump. Mueller removed Strzok from his team, but that is not enough for Trump’s supporters, who are seizing on Strzok’s role as a pretext to discredit and remove Mueller, too. The notion that a law-enforcement official should be disqualified for privately expressing partisan views is a novel one, and certainly did not trouble Republicans last year, when Rudy Giuliani was boasting on television about his network of friendly agents. Yet in the conservative media, Mueller and Comey have assumed fiendish personae of almost Clintonian proportions…
Trump has publicly declared any investigation into his finances would constitute a red line, and that he reserves the option to fire Mueller if he investigates them. Earlier this month, it was reported that Mueller has subpoenaed records at Deutsche Bank, an institution favored both by Trump and the Russian spy network…
It is almost a maxim of the Trump era that the bounds of the unthinkable continuously shrink. The capitulation to Moore was a dry run for the coming assault on the rule of law.
And that’s leaving out one more very big reason why it’s going to happen: Because Trump is Trump. He cannot stand to be questioned or investigated and he truly thinks that he is, or should be, completely outside the bounds of not only law but any traditional restrictions on his authority. And the only response he has ever had to being challenged in such a manner is fury and bluster. Combine those things and I would be very, very surprised if he doesn’t attempt it.