Tuesday, March 20, 2018


At Vox, Andrew Prokop offers several possible reasons President Trump hasn't had Robert Mueller fired.
The process of getting rid of Mueller is much more complicated and legally fraught than, say, firing FBI Director James Comey or Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Furthermore, dismissing Mueller himself wouldn’t end Mueller’s investigation — an even more controversial intervention would be required for that. Then, even if he pulled it off, Mueller’s firing would likely lead to a flood of leaks. Finally, the ensuing backlash could help Democrats regain control of Congress — which could make Trump’s legal and political situation even worse.
On that last point, Prokop writes:
... the real risk for Trump is in what that political backlash could make likely — a Democratic takeover of one or both chambers of Congress in 2018....

The problem for Trump is not that he’d be sentimental about the GOP’s electoral fate. It’s that Democratic control of even one chamber would unleash empowered opposition party–controlled investigations into him and his administration on Russia, obstruction, and a host of other issues.
To Paul Krugman, that's the obvious reason Trump is restraining himself:

I agree that if Trump doesn't have Mueller fired before the midterms and Republicans retain control of Congress, there'll be no constraints on Trump after the votes are counted -- he'll shut the investigation down. But I don't think we should assume that that's his principal motivation for leaving Mueller in place.

Trump lives in an epistemically closed world. He addresses all of his rhetoric to his fans and none of it to opponents or the unpersuaded. He believes only polls that show him doing well. He thinks Democrats are wildly unpopular and win elections only through voter fraud. And because he was like this all the way through the 2016 election, an election no one expected him to win, he thinks he understands elections better than the experts, and doesn't believe he has to do anything to counter Democrats except trust his gut and fire up his base. In his gut he certainly wants to fire Mueller. He knows his base would be ecstatic if he did. He knows that Rasmussen would produce polls showing that the move was extremely well received, and he'd believe only those polls.

It seems more likely to me that he simply can't find someone willing to fire Mueller and shut down or bottle up the investigation (because none of the potential hatchet persons want to be facing obstruction of justice charges). So what's the point of dumping Mueller at all? Or maybe he watches Lindsey Graham and others on TV and really believes there'd be a reckoning for him in Congress if Mueller is canned. If so, Graham and all the phony believers in the rule of law (we know they'd actually do nothing) are performing a public service: They're faking a sense of patriotism, and Trump is stupid enough to believe them.

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