The New York Times has posted a blockbuster story that President Donald Trump ordered that Special Counsel Robert Mueller be fired last June but White House Counsel Donald F. McGahn II prevented the order from being carried out by threatening to resign. If true, it is a chilling disclosure that such a clearly self-defeating and unwarranted act was not just considered but ordered. The firing would have magnified calls for possible impeachment and would have led Congress to move on such options as the renewal of the Independent Counsel Act. While I have written extensively (here and here and here) on Mueller’s conflicts of interest and why he should never have been considered for such a post, I have also stressed that any firing of Mueller would be an act of utter lunacy in the midst of this investigation.
Trump reportedly identified three conflicts of interest for Mueller stemming from (1) a dispute over fees at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va. involving Mueller; (2) Mueller’s work for the law firm that previously represented the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and (3) the fact (that I have previously written about) that Mueller interviewed for Comey’s job after Comey was fired by Trump.
Again, I happen to agree that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein made a mistake in selecting Mueller. However, that does not mean that a firing of Mueller is warranted or wise. It is not. Moreover, I expect Rosenstein would have also resigned rather than carry out such an order.
If this account is true, Trump was saved from committing a lethal self-inflicted wound by his counsel throwing himself in the path of the president.