Bloomberg reports: President Donald Trump’s interview with the New York Times on Wednesday has stirred speculation he may consider firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller for investigating Trump’s business dealings as part of the Russia probe.
But Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, according to the law that authorizes Mueller’s probe. If he tried, he could set off a chain-reaction that would throw the Justice Department into upheaval.
Only the person acting as attorney general, currently Rod Rosenstein on matters related to the probe, can fire Mueller, and he’s said he won’t do it without “good cause.” So Trump would first have to purge the upper ranks of the Justice Department until he finds someone willing to follow his orders and dismiss the special counsel.
He’d almost certainly begin by dismissing Rosenstein, whose political loyalties Trump questioned in the Times interview on Wednesday in which he also warned Mueller against broadening his investigation. Such a scenario would parallel President Richard Nixon’s 1973 “Saturday Night Massacre,” when Nixon forced out the top two officials in the Justice Department in order to oust the Watergate special counsel.
“I don’t think that’s politically survivable, and it’s not clear how much collateral damage he has to do to in order to put himself into a position to have somebody fire Mueller,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island. [Continue reading…]