President Donald Trump is obviously not happy with the recent FBI raid on the home and offices of his long-time personal attorney Michael Cohen.
In fact, the president is so angry he might even take the much-feared step of firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the former FBI director investigating the alleged collusion between Trump’s 2016 election campaign and Russian operatives, as the search was apparently conducted after a referral by his office.
“I just heard that they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys. Good man. And it's a disgraceful situation. It's a total witch hunt,” Trump said, calling the lawful raid an “attack” on “what we all stand for.” (For the record, no one "broke into" Cohen's office; authorities obtained search warrants.)
He also slammed Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia probe — again.
“The attorney general made a terrible mistake when he did this and when recused himself or he certainly should have let us know if he was going to recuse himself and we would have put a different attorney general,” said the commander-in-chief.
Perhaps it was his irksome tone and the fuming rant that prompted a reporter to ask, “Why don’t you just fire Mueller?”
It was a straightforward question and this is how Trump responded:
“Why don't I just fire Mueller? Well, I think it's a disgrace what's going on. 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.”
His answer suggested he isn’t against the idea, which is extremely alarming.
The Trump administration had so far maintained the president wasn’t going to fire Mueller, who was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to look into the alleged Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election following Comey’s untimely departure.
The White House went as far as saying it was cooperating with the special counsel and claimed to believe Mueller would be fair to them, even as reports revealed Trump had previously ordered Mueller’s firing before backing off. Even when the former reality TV star was slamming Mueller and his investigation on Twitter, his legal team (or what’s left of it) desperately tried to assure the American public Trump won’t fire the special counsel.
“So we’ll see what happens,” Trump reiterated during the press conference. “I think it’s disgraceful and so does (sic) a lot of other people. This is a pure and simple witch hunt. Thank you very much.”
Now, he may have not outright said he was planning to fire the special counsel, but the number of close friends and associates he has so far fired from his administration shows Trump is not just extremely unpredictable he also doesn’t react well when he feels like his authority is being undermined.
For instance, he abruptly fired former FBI Director James Comey just as the agency’s Russia investigation had begun to intensify.
But the thing is, since Rosenstein appointed Mueller, Trump can't directly fire him but can get the deputy attorney general to do the deed — just like former President Richard Nixon, who ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor investigating the Watergate political scandal in 1973 during what is known as the “Saturday Night Massacre.”
If Rosenstein refuses to follow the order, the president could fire him and pick someone in his place to shut down the investigation. Trump could also order the repeal of special-counsel regulations, but all of these scenarios could trigger a lengthy legal battle and widespread political backlash.
It is also important to mention Trump said he was “looking forward” to speaking to the special counsel regarding the ongoing investigation into alleged Russian interference — and that he would do so under oath.
However, sources familiar with the matter said Trump’s legal team was so worried about their boss accidentally perjuring himself in front of Mueller that it was mulling over ways the commander-in-chief could testify without possibly incriminating himself or his election campaign.
Now is the time for Republicans in Congress to act. They must step forward and enact legislation to protect Mueller's role as special counsel.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters