Saturday Night Slaughter averted

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Last night's revelation from the NYT that Trump tried to fire Robert Mueller last year in sensational:

After receiving the president's order to fire Mr. Mueller, the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, refused to ask the Justice Department to dismiss the special counsel, saying he would quit instead, the people said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing a continuing investigation.

Mr. McGahn disagreed with the president's case and told senior White House officials that firing Mr. Mueller would have a catastrophic effect on Mr. Trump's presidency. Mr. McGahn also told White House officials that Mr. Trump would not follow through on the dismissal on his own. The president then backed off.

Trump, meanwhile, dismissed it as "Fake news. A typical New York Times fake story." Politico observes that other White House flacks are issuing similarly Trumpian denials:

"Well, clearly The New York Times is stirring up these months' old Russian conspiracy stories and quite frankly, you know, I have not spoken to the president about it," White House Director of Strategic Communications Mercedes Schlapp told Fox News's "Fox & Friends" Friday morning. "The reality is, is that the president and this White House has been cooperative with the special counsel. And as we continue to see, there's no evidence of collusion. There's no evidence of wrong doing. The white house turned over 20,000 records to the special counsel. Again, we want an expedited end to this investigation. As we've seen thus far, there's no evidence of collusion or wrongdoing."

"Nonetheless," the NYT continues, "Trump has wavered for months about whether he wants to fire Mr. Mueller, which is an omnipresent concern among the president's legal team and close aides:"

The White House has denied nearly a dozen times since June that Mr. Trump was considering firing Mr. Mueller. The president's lawyers, including Mr. Cobb, have tried to keep Mr. Trump calm by assuring him for months, amid new revelations about the inquiry, that it is close to ending.

The Atlantic calls the incident the Saturday Night Massacre that wasn't, writing that "The episode adds new intrigue to the already transfixing dance between the president and the special counsel's probe:"

Attempting to fire a special counsel would immediately bring back memories of the October 1973 "Saturday Night Massacre," in which President Richard Nixon moved to dismiss the special prosecutor investigating Watergate. He was successful, but only after the attorney general and deputy attorney general resigned rather than dismiss Archibald Cox. A judge later ruled the firing was illegal, but at that point the greatest damage had already been done in political terms, and the firing came to be seen as the beginning of the end for Nixon's presidency.

"News of the attempted firing," the piece continues, "comes as Trump's lawyers negotiate the terms on which the president would offer testimony to Mueller:"

While the president has long said he didn't think he'd need to testify, he changed his tune on Wednesday. "I'm looking forward to it, actually," he said. "I would love to do that--I'd like to do it as soon as possible." [...]

It is up to Mueller to decide whether Trump's actions constitute a crime of obstruction of justice, but for Congress and the public, the central question remains what it is that has made Trump so anxious to suffocate the probes examining his campaign, presidency, and finances.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on January 26, 2018 8:45 AM.

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