President Donald Trump renewed his public discussion over firing Robert Mueller after the search of his lawyer’s office, a move that would be the single most destructive act since . . . well . . . Trump fired James Comey. It would not only not stop the investigation but it would expand calls for impeachment. The statement clearly thrilled many of his critics who relished the idea of the largest unforced error in history since New York Giants center fielder Fred Snodgrass blew Game 8 of the 1912 World Series with the Boston Red Sox. Of course, dropping that ball cost New York the World Series. This could cost Trump his presidency. I have a column out this morning in the Hill on this issue.
Trump attacked Sessions, Rosenstein, Mueller, and Comey during a meeting on the Syrian conflict. Many people swallowed hard at this line “We’ll see what happens. Many people have said, ‘you should fire him.’ Again, they found nothing and in finding nothing that’s a big statement.”
The move against Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, could play into Trump’s long desire to move against Mueller and others at the Justice Department. As with the Saturday Night massacre, however, such moves only magnify the costs for a president. When President Nixon moved to fire of independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox. it triggered the subsequent resignations of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus on October 20, 1973. It simply led to the appointment of Leon Jaworski.
As discussed earlier, if Trump were to fire Mueller now, Trump would put his very presidency at risk. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and White House counsel Don McGahn likely would resign in quick succession.
Moreover, Congress could reinstate the Independent Counsel Act, which existed until 1992. Indeed, Mueller could conceivably be reappointed under that law. Finally, Congress would likely embark on its own investigation, including a possible impeachment process. In other words, firing Mueller is unlikely to achieve the desired end of stopping the investigation. It would, however, likely stop the Trump administration from doing anything other than crisis management over the firing.
Trump is right that there are people calling for Mueller. They are wrong, Mr. President.