Fire Mueller? A stupid idea

Reen­act­ing a ver­sion of Nixon’s ‘Satur­day Night Mas­sacre’ would be fool­hardy, even for Trump.

Los Angeles Times - - OPINION -

Only a few days be­fore the 45th an­niver­sary of the Water­gate break-in, could Pres­i­dent Trump re­ally be con­tem­plat­ing a reen­act­ment of one of that scan­dal’s most no­to­ri­ous episodes: Pres­i­dent Nixon’s fir­ing of Archibald Cox, the spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor who was in­ves­ti­gat­ing the cover-up of that “third-rate bur­glary,” a power play that also cost the pres­i­dent his at­tor­ney gen­eral and deputy at­tor­ney gen­eral?

Ac­cord­ing to con­ser­va­tive me­dia ex­ec­u­tive Christo­pher Ruddy, a close friend of the pres­i­dent’s, Trump is con­sid­er­ing fir­ing Robert S. Mueller III, the spe­cial coun­sel in charge of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and pos­si­ble col­lu­sion be­tween Rus­sia and the Trump cam­paign.

Mean­while, a cho­rus of Trump sup­port­ers, from for­mer House Speaker Newt Gin­grich to com­men­ta­tor Ann Coul­ter, is as­sail­ing Mueller’s in­de­pen­dence. Gin­grich, who only a few weeks ago called Mueller a “su­perb choice” with an “im­pec­ca­ble” rep­u­ta­tion, tweeted on Mon­day: “Repub­li­cans are delu­sional if they think the spe­cial coun­sel is go­ing to be fair.”

The crit­i­cism of Mueller takes sev­eral forms. Gin­grich pointed to Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion re­ports that showed that some mem­bers of Mueller’s staff had con­trib­uted to Demo­cratic can­di­dates, in­clud­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton, in the past. Coul­ter sug­gested that be­cause for­mer FBI Di­rec­tor James B. Comey had tes­ti­fied that Trump hadn’t been per­son­ally un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion while he still led the bureau, the pur­pose of Mueller’s com­mis­sion “is now over.” (That ig­nores the fact that other Trump cam­paign fig­ures might be un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.)

We don’t want to give this glo­ri­fied ru­mor more weight than it’s worth. Suf­fice to say that Trump would be nuts to think that th­ese flimsy ob­jec­tions would pro­vide him with cover if he made the dis­as­trous de­ci­sion to dis­miss Mueller and abort the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. What’s more, in or­der to ac­com­plish that wreck­ing op­er­a­tion, the pres­i­dent would prob­a­bly have to fire Rod Rosen­stein, the deputy at­tor­ney gen­eral who en­trusted the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion to Mueller af­ter Atty. Gen. Jeff Ses­sions rightly re­cused him­self. Rosen­stein has al­ready said pub­licly that he sees no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for fir­ing Mueller, and that he wouldn’t carry out an or­der from Trump to do so with­out “good cause.”

That was a warn­ing to Trump not to at­tempt his own ver­sion of Nixon’s “Satur­day Night Mas­sacre” — but it wasn’t the only one. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), couch­ing the same ad­vice in friend­lier terms, said: “The best thing to do is to let Robert Mueller do his job,” adding that “the best vin­di­ca­tion for the pres­i­dent is to let this in­ves­ti­ga­tion go on in­de­pen­dently and thor­oughly.”

For his own good, Trump should take this ad­vice.

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