Donald Trump's White House, Republican allies don't want him to fire Robert Mueller

"This would be Watergate in slow motion"

Published August 4, 2017 7:40AM (EDT)

Robert Mueller   (Getty/Saul Loeb)
Robert Mueller (Getty/Saul Loeb)

President Donald Trump is being urged not to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, despite the latter's decision to convene a grand jury as a means of widening his investigation.

Although Trump could not directly fire Mueller, he could replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions (who has recused himself from the Russia case) with someone who would do so, according to a report by The Washington Post. Because Sessions' deputy, Rod Rosenstein, has made it clear that he will not fire Mueller unless there is a valid reason for doing so, a new attorney general could override Rosenstein and fire Mueller anyway.

There are two proposals under consideration in the Senate to prevent Trump from doing this. One is supported by Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Democratic Sen. Christopher Coons of Connecticut, while the other is supported by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey.

Aside from the potential legislation tying Trump's hands, there are also individuals power brokers urging Trump not to dismiss Mueller. "The President can't set red lines for Bob Mueller," said Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine in a CNN interview on Thursday, referring to Trump's earlier statement that Mueller investigating his finances would constitute a "red line" that shouldn't be crossed.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska concurred, declaring "Well said."

The former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, offered a dire prediction in the event that Trump actually did fire Mueller.

"I think this would create a real constitutional crisis. This would be Watergate in slow motion, which I also lived through," Clapper told CNN.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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