The House greeted the release of the redacted Mueller report by taking a 10-day recess. After returning for several weeks of name-calling between the Speaker and the President, the issuance of a bunch of subpoenas, threats of contempt, and two court victories, the House ran out of gas and headed off for another 10-day recess. While Speaker Nancy Pelosi jockeyed to hold the growing impeachment caucus at bay, the House failed to hold a single substantive hearing on the Mueller Report or even to secure a date to hear from Mueller. Don McGahn bowed to Trump’s demand that he blow off the House Judiciary Committee’s (HJC) subpoena — so far, without consequence. While Pelosi oversaw implementation of her plan to delay impeachment through slow-moving, diffuse oversight, the urgency of moving to impeachment only increased.
When Attorney General Barr released his wounded version of Robert Mueller’s report, House Democrats, under the tight control of Nancy Pelosi, announced that they would begin a process of examining the contents of the report, in addition to conducting oversight in several other areas. They then left town on a ten-day recess. Those ten days drained a disturbing amount of fuel from our democracy. The Democrats’ tepid response allowed Barr and Trump to peddle the lie that Mueller had found no collusion and no obstruction.
In recent days, the rumor has zinged around Washington that Trump will fire Mueller on December 22, as Congress leaves town for the holidays.
The speculation is fueled by the notion that the investigation is nearing a crescendo that requires Trump to act now or face dire consequences. The accumulating evidence against Trump, his family, and his allies, complemented by a barrage of right-wing media and Congressional assaults on the legitimacy of Mueller and the FBI, buttress the notion that Trump’s allies are preparing the ground for imminent bloodletting.
I don’t buy it. Predicting Trump’s behavior is a fool’s errand. He acts impulsively, and often seems not to know in the morning what he’ll do in the afternoon. But, firing Mueller would provoke an existential crisis for Trump’s presidency. Politicians on the left and right have cited Mueller’s firing as a red line that Trump cannot cross without provoking a constitutional crisis that will put him on the path to impeachment. Trump may calculate, with some reason, that many on the right will back down, and that Republican leaders in the House will not follow through on impeachment proceedings. Regardless, firing Mueller would constitute a declaration by Trump that he is above the law. It would give the public reason to rally even more furiously in opposition to him. Firing Mueller, therefore, would be a high-stakes roll of the dice. Read more