Donald Trump may fire Russia investigation Special Counsel Robert Mueller this week, if Mueller actually goes through with handing down grand jury indictments and making arrests of Trump associates in the Russia probe, many experts and political observers fear. In fact, activists are already planning nationwide protest marches, believing that the day when Trump fires Mueller is now inevitable.
Late Friday, reports emerged in the media that Mueller had filed his first criminal charges in the Russia investigation, with the indictments coming out of a federal grand jury empaneled in Washington D.C. Those reports were confirmed by four different news organizations — CNN, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, and NBC News.
The reports also said that Mueller may take at least one person into custody as early as Monday. While the charges remained sealed on Sunday and the identity of the possible target or targets are unknown outside inner circles of the Mueller team, speculation in the media and online has focused on former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Trump’s own son-in-law and top adviser Jared Kushner as the prime candidates to be swept up by the Mueller charges.
Earlier this month, the Associated Press reported that Trump’s close friends and advisers were pushing him to launch an all-out political attack on Mueller, realizing that the Russia investigation posed an “existential threat” to Trump’s administration. The fight with Mueller is “a political brawl,” the Trump associates said, rather than a battle over facts in the collusion case.
The attacks on Mueller have been frequent this week, leading up to the special counsel’s filing of charges on Friday, with numerous conservative media outlets calling on Mueller to resign, claiming that he is “compromised” because as former FBI Director, he is close to James Comey, the FBI director fired by Trump on May 9 of this year.
Vox.com political writer Matthew Yglesias said the “game” behind the calls for Mueller to resign is to “legitimize Trump’s inevitable decision to fire Mueller.” And data journalist Nate Silver, founder of the site FiveThirtyEight.com, also warned that Trump appears likely to fire Mueller.
This. The conventional wisdom seems to underrate how likely is that Trump fires Mueller (or at least attempts to fire him). https://t.co/98EjHYGbB8
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) October 29, 2017
Members of the United States Senate are so worried that Trump will try to fire Mueller that they are currently considering two separate bills that would put legal limits on Trump’s ability to dismiss the Special Counsel — one bill allowing Mueller to appeal his firing before a special legal panel, and the other requiring that any firing of Mueller must first go through the Department of Justice.
Under current rules that dictate how special counsels may be hired and fired, Trump may not fire Mueller directly, but he can order Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to do so. If Rosenstein objects to the decision by Trump, his only option is to resign his position. Rosenstein has already testified to Congress that he sees no “good cause” to fire Mueller — and the law requires that “good cause” must be shown in order to hand Mueller his pink slip.
But Trump has another option. According to some legal scholars, Trump could simply sign an executive order repealing the rules governing how a special counsel is hired and fired — and then fire Mueller directly, himself.
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The liberal activist group MoveOn.org is already preparing for Trump to fire Mueller, posting plans on its site for a “rapid response,” with large-scale street protests in dozens of cities across the country if Trump attempts to end the Russia collusion investigation by removing Mueller from his post, and calling such a move by Trump “a power grab.”
“This would be a constitutional crisis for our country. It would demand an immediate and unequivocal response to show that we will not tolerate abuse of power from Donald Trump,” the group wrote on the site. “Our response in the minutes and hours following a power grab will dictate what happens next, and whether Congress — the only body with the constitutional power and obligation to rein Trump in from his rampage — will do anything to stand up to him.”
[Featured Image by Evan Vucci/AP Images]