According to the New York Times, Trump ordered the firing of Special Counsel Robert Mueller just one month after Mueller was tasked with heading the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Trump gave the order for the firing, through White House Counsel Don McGahn, who refused to carry it out and threatened to resign because he knew it would be crossing a bright red line.
Of course, Trump denies that this happened, despite multiple sources corroborating the story, calling the Times report “Fake News” and saying that he has no intention of interfering with Mueller’s investigation.
But this is a stark reminder of how urgent it is that Congress protect the investigation -- and the Republic itself -- by passing the bipartisan legislation that has already been introduced to do just that.
When Trump tried to have Mueller fired back in June, his supposed reason was that Mueller had conflicts of interest due to things like a previous dispute over his membership at a Trump golf club and his working for a law firm that had done some past work representing the Kushner family. It would have been a major stretch -- truly laughable -- and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who would presumably have been the one tasked with actually firing Mueller, would most likely have refused the order. That could have triggered a scenario similar to Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre,” in which Nixon’s attempts to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox led to the resignations of the DOJ’s top officials, who refused to carry out that order.
Even IF Trump was successful in having Mueller fired on those “conflict of interest” grounds, then it wouldn’t have stopped the investigation. A new special prosecutor would have been appointed. Would Trump have kept concocting reasons to fire each special prosecutor one after another?
Last night’s New York Times report further clarifies a picture of a president who has zero regard for the law, zero regard for our democratic institutions, and zero regard for justice.
Congress must act without delay.
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-- Ben Betz, Digital Advocacy Director