Why Republicans Won’t Pass Bill to Protect Mueller

Why Republicans Won’t Pass Bill to Protect Mueller March 22, 2018

The Hill reports that most Republican leaders are terrified of Trump firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller, knowing that it would be a political disaster for them. Yet only a few have come out strongly and publicly to warn him not to. Congressional leaders have, but they refuse to pass a bill that would prevent him from being able to do so.

Republicans are almost unanimous in the view that any move by President Trump to fire special counsel Robert Mueller would be a political disaster.

Even GOP figures loyal to Trump see any such move as hugely counterproductive, while more critical conservative voices — especially those looking toward November’s midterm elections — fear the president would make already-difficult terrain close to impossible.

“I think it would be a really bad idea to fire him and exacerbate the situation,” said Barry Bennett, a senior adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign who remains supportive of the president.

Both Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have spoken out to say that Mueller should be allowed to complete his investigation and both have praised Mueller as an excellent choice, but there are bipartisan bills that would prevent Trump from firing Mueller by requiring that a panel of appeals court judges approve any such action and neither one of them has allowed it to be debated or voted on. Why is that? Sen. Bob Corker, who is retiring at the end of this year and is thus free to tell the truth, may have the explanation:

Amid sky-high Democratic enthusiasm and a developing “blue wave,” Republicans can’t afford a war with Trump that depresses GOP turnout. Republicans might be worried about Trump’s attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller, but they are reluctant to push back, much less support legislation to curtail the president’s ability to fire Mueller and sideline the federal probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections and possible collusion to defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“The president is, as you know — you’ve seen his numbers among the Republican base — it’s very strong. It’s more than strong, it’s tribal in nature,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who decided to retire when his second term concludes at year’s end, after periodically sparring with Trump.

“People who tell me, who are out on trail, say, look, people don’t ask about issues anymore. They don’t care about issues. They want to know if you’re with Trump or not,” Corker added.

So tribalism. As usual. And a fear of getting a primary challenge in November. If the latter is really the case, then that should wear off soon because the deadlines for filing to run are hitting right now in many states. And it’s not like the Trump base is going to vote Democratic, no matter who the Republican is. But tribalism is still a powerful thing, more powerful than ever, I think, in a society becoming more polarized by the minute.

It’s obvious that the Congressional leadership is just hoping they won’t have to deal with this. They’re going to have a difficult enough time dealing with whatever the investigation finds on Trump and those around him, but they know that if Trump fires Mueller, the shit will really hit the fan and the public outcry will be enormous. Ryan’s claim that he has “assurances” that Trump won’t do that falls, I’m sure, somewhere between wishful thinking and a fervent prayer. But relying on assurances that Trump won’d do something stupid is about as foolhardy as one could get at this point. I’d sooner rely on Lucy’s promise not to pull the football away when I go to kick it.

The rubber will hit the road if and when Trump pulls the trigger on the loaded gun in the hands of an empty-headed leaders. At that point, the public pressure will be enormous and Ryan and McConnell will be forced to either take action or have Trump hung around their necks as an albatross. And frankly, I’m looking forward to that.

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