In the wake of the FBI raid on his personal attorney Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump is mad as hell. And he may just be willing to take a step considered to be a political nuclear bomb in Washington: Fire special counsel Robert Mueller.
“Why don’t I just fire Mueller?” Trump responded Monday night to a question from a reporter. “Well, I think it’s a disgrace what’s going on. We’ll see what happens. Many people have said you should fire him. Again, they found nothing. And in finding nothing, that’s a big statement.”
That’s a remarkable statement. And further than Trump has gone – at least publicly – before. Openly contemplating the firing of the special counsel feels like a precursor to the actual act, a trial balloon floated to see how it might land.
Does that mean he actually does the deed? No, of course not. Trump is massively unpredictable and prone to changing his mind without warning.
And, according to CNN’s Gloria Borger, Trump’s fury is more directed at Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein than at Mueller at the moment.
“The attorney general made a terrible mistake when he did this and when recused himself or he certainly should have let us know if he was going to recuse himself and we would have put a different attorney general,” Trump said Monday night.
Trump has repeatedly blasted Sessions for that choice, making clear on several previous occasions that he never would have nominated Sessions for the AG role if he had known the former Alabama senator would recuse himself.
So, it’s possible that Trump gets rid of either Sessions or Rosenstein as payback for the Cohen raid. (Make no mistake: The targeting of Cohen by the FBI is the equivalent in Trump’s mind of raiding the home of a member of his family; he and Cohen are that close.)
But, we know that Trump already ordered Mueller fired last summer, only to be talked out of it by White House counsel Don McGahn. That he has already gone down that road once means he can go down it again.
And, unlike last summer when Trump reluctantly backed away from his plan to fire Mueller, the President is surrounded by far fewer people he trusts or listens to. Hope Hicks is gone. Rob Porter is gone. Johnny McEntee is gone. Trump’s relationship with chief of staff John Kelly is strained. The President is more isolated than he has been at any time since he began running for the office he currently holds.
An angry and embittered Trump without any sort of protective cocoon around him is capable of almost anything – up to and including getting rid of the man who has been a burr in his saddle for the past year.
Look at the language Trump used to describe the Mueller probe on Monday. Yes, he called the special counsel probe a “total witch hunt” – as he has done in the past. But, he went a step further – making clear that he believed what Mueller and Rosenstein were doing was undermining America.
“It’s an attack on our country,” Trump said Monday. “It’s an attack on what we all stand for.”
It’s an attack on all we stand for.
Trump added this on Mueller and his team:
“This is the most biased group of people. These people have the biggest conflicts of interest I have ever seen. Democrats – all. Either Democrats or a couple of Republicans who worked for President Obama. They’re not looking at the other side – Hillary Clinton… all of the crimes that were committed, all of the things that happened that everybody is very angry about from the Republican side and the independent side. They only keep looking at us. “
It doesn’t feel like much of a stretch to me for Trump to explain his decision to have Mueller fired as a way to protect the country. Mueller and the rest of the Deep Staters in the Justice Department would never give up. They just kept pushing their agenda. And it was hurting the country. Trump had no choice but to do what he did. Firing Mueller is actually Trump putting the country first.
If you think that sounds outlandish, go back and read the Trump quotes from Monday night. Then consider that he views Cohen as a member of his family. And that there are very few people who can make Trump listen on a good day, much less when he is this angry.
Then ask yourself: Can you – or anyone – rule out Trump getting rid of Mueller? Me neither.