March 26, 2018
By Robert Kuttner | Mar 28, 2018
Saturday Night Massacre—or Saturday Night Live? Let’s review the bidding. The pundits keep warning that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s firing is imminent. Trump obviously seethes and keeps fantasizing about telling Mueller he’s fired. What next?
If Trump does move to fire Mueller, he has to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein first. More precisely, he’d have to order Rosenstein to fire Mueller, give Rosenstein time to respond, then replace him, and go down the chain until he can find someone willing to fire the special counsel.
This would surely take a day or two—plenty of time for Rosenstein to tip off Mueller, and plenty of time for Mueller to deliver his draft report and his files to Congress, the Justice Department, and state attorneys general.
Mueller has surely prepared for this contingency, and he already has plenty of material to justify impeachment. His firing would make a formal impeachment process inevitable. Just enough Republicans have warned Trump about this scenario that he has held off, so far.
A rational person (ha!) would appreciate all of this, and not fire Mueller. On the other hand, Trump is neither a rational person nor is he capable of complex thought.
Rather, he often holds contradictory views at the same time and proceeds on impulse. (What other germophobe has unprotected sex with a porn actress?)
So Trump is fully capable of firing Mueller, despite the self-destruction that such a course portends. Will he order Mueller's firing, or will his minders stay his hand?
Those adult minders are getting more and more scarce. The hiring of Larry Kudlow and John Bolton suggests that he is determined to populate his senior advisers with people as reckless and flaky as himself—people he likes from watching them on Fox.
When this history is written, one of the great disgraces of this era will be the failure of more than a handful of Republicans in Congress to restrain Trump. They continue to put ideological goals, such as tax cuts, deregulation, and control of the federal courts, ahead of protecting their country from a crackpot.
Assuming democracy holds for another seven months, all signs suggest Republicans will pay dearly in November—and Trump may well pay dearly even before that.