When Donald Trump Inevitably Fires Robert Mueller, What Happens Next? [Opinion]

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When the news broke Tuesday morning that the Robert Mueller investigation into whether Donald Trump’s campaign and administration conspired with Russia to sway the 2016 presidential election had subpoenaed Deutsche Bank for all their records of Trump’s finances, it set off a lot of alarms. You may remember that, back in July, Donald Trump declared that Mueller looking into his finances would be crossing his “red line” and would not be allowed. It appears to many commentators, including this writer, that Donald Trump is going to fire Robert Mueller. At a certain point, he really has no other play than that. The only questions that remain are, when is he going to do it, and what’s the next step when he does?

According to an article in Reuters on Tuesday, Trump’s accounts at Deutsche Bank have been subpoenaed by Mueller to find out if the bank sold any of Trump’s mortgages or other loans to Russian state bank VEB, which is under U.S. and European sanctions. Deutsche Bank is known to have lent Trump hundreds of millions of dollars over the past 10 years, after a string of bankruptcies have left most other lenders reluctant to deal with the president. The White House, through Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow, have denied that the subpoenas have actually been issued but that assessment is contradicted by sources close to the investigation.

This is just the latest step down a very long and winding road that can only lead to Trump getting rid of Mueller. Last week it was announced that Mueller had fired a member of his team for sending anti-Trump texts. Right-wing media have jumped all over this to declare that it shows an obvious bias within the investigation. A recent editorial by The Daily Caller is representative of what is also being said on Fox News and at Breitbart News, alleging that the firing of the agent shows that the investigation is hopelessly biased and that Mueller needs to resign immediately. In reality, the fact that the agent was fired the instant the anti-Trump texts came to light is evidence against the idea that the investigation, led by the long-time Republican Mueller, is suffering from any partisan bias.

The president himself has begun taking to his favorite medium, Twitter, to attack both the Mueller investigation and the FBI.

It’s plainly obvious where Donald Trump, enabled by the GOP and his media arms like Fox and Breitbart, is going with this. He is trying to create a groundswell among his followers to believe that Robert Mueller is part of some “deep state” coup to depose a wholly innocent man and demand that Mueller resign or be fired.

If you are Donald Trump, all of this makes perfect sense. Mueller and his team are quickly amassing a mountain of evidence and drawing the net tighter and tighter on Trump’s inner circle. It’s expected that, at any moment, indictments could be delivered for people as close to the president as Jared Kushner or Jeff Sessions. Trump may not fire Mueller today or tomorrow. He may not fire him this month, but mark my words, sooner or later he is going to fire him. According to a new article in Politico, Democrats in Congress are making new noise about passing some legislation that could protect Mueller, but I don’t expect that to happen any day soon. In fact, I don’t expect it to happen in time.

trump to fire mueller
Robert Mueller is closing in on Trump and his inner circle.Featured image credit: Alex WongGetty Images

That just leaves the question of what happens when Mueller is fired. It will create a constitutional crisis, to be sure, if we are not, in fact, already in one. Republican senators such as Lindsey Graham and John McCain have, in the past, declared that if Trump were to fire Mueller, it would be the beginning of the end of his presidency. After the RNC recently went back on their decision not to back the candidacy of Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore, however, it’s difficult to place any faith in the majority party, who have done little to this point but justify and excuse Trump’s most egregious offenses.

If Robert Mueller is as smart and competent as I suspect he is, he could very well be expecting Trump to fire him and has planned for that contingency. If I were Mueller, I would have made certain that my firing would trigger a release to the press of all the evidence of Trump’s crime and conspiracy that has been held back. If this is the case, then firing Mueller could actually be the worst move that Trump could make and Mueller could very well be laying a trap for him.

If nothing else happens, you and I need to speak up. The firing of Mueller, when it happens, should propel decent Americans to fill the streets in protest, demanding that Donald Trump be forced to face some accountability and consequence for his part in what is really an attack on our institutions and way of life from a hostile foreign power.

We are on a precipice here in America. On one side is the democracy that we know and love, flawed and imperfect certainly, but infinitely better than the alternative. On the other side is authoritarianism and fascism. Donald Trump is going to fire Robert Mueller. What we do next will forever decide what kind of America we are going to be.