During an interview on MSNBC’s “The Beat with Ari Melber,” Seth Waxman, a former U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C., has explained what special counselor Robert Mueller could do in the event that he is fired by Trump.
With rumors swirling suggesting that the President may seek to remove Mueller as the special counselor continues to hone in on Trump’s inner circle – and even the President himself – Waxman said that he could file a lawsuit in the event that Trump seeks to oust him.
“Well, if he went that route and tried to kind of circumvent, or you know, trump the special counsel rules, there could be an action filed in federal court,” Waxman said.
The former U.S. attorney explained that, per Department of Justice rules, the President cannot fire Mueller himself, but rather by a DOJ official only in certain instances, such as dereliction of duty.
Should Trump subvert these rules and attempt to fire Mueller anyway, the special counselor could file suit under the Administrative Procedure Act.
“And so if Trump were to go that route, there potentially could be a lawsuit filed in federal court and litigation over that matter,” Waxman added.
Trump, for his part, begrudgingly denied the rumors during an impromptu Q&A with reporters.
Returning from Camp David, Trump is asked if he's considering firing Special Counsel Mueller.
"No, I'm not," the president says. pic.twitter.com/U3fCCHupOg
— NBC News (@NBCNews) December 17, 2017
While firing Mueller would be tantamount to obstructing justice, it would not be wholly without precedent for Trump. He is already possibly being investigated for obstruction of justice stemming from his misguided ouster of former FBI Director James Comey in May of this year.
Despite having been fired, Comey nonetheless testified in front of Congress in June, 2017. There, the former FBI Director revealed that Trump had pressed him to end the FBI’s investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
“I hope you can let this go,” the President told Mr. Comey, according to a memo that he wrote shortly after his meeting.
Flynn, of course, was a primary focus of the investigation as it changed hands from Comey to Mueller. Mueller has since charged the former national security adviser with “willfully and knowingly” making “false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to the FBI.
The fact that Flynn only faced a single charge suggests that the disgraced former national security adviser has been cooperating with or has already provided Mueller with information.
Flynn’s charge and subsequent guilty plea comes only weeks after previous charges were levied against three of Trump’s former aides, including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, his longtime associate and former campaign adviser Rick Gates, and former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos.
Papadopoulos has already pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and has been cooperating with investigators.
A slew of prominent voices have warned Trump against the move.
Eric Holder, former President Barack Obama’s attorney general, took to Twitter to slam the prospect of ousting the special counselor.
Speaking on behalf of the vast majority of the American people, Republicans in Congress be forewarned:any attempt to remove Bob Mueller will not be tolerated.These are BS attacks on him/his staff that are blatantly political-designed to hide the real wrongdoing. Country not party
— Eric Holder (@EricHolder) December 14, 2017
In an interview with Brian Stelter of CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” former Washington Post reporter and Watergate investigative journalist Carl Bernstein has accused Fox News hosts and guests of “abetting a cover-up” in Trump’s Russia scandal by calling for Mueller’s firing (video below).
From former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich to Rush Limbaugh to Sean Hannity to even Judge Jeanine Pirro, Fox’s hosts and guests – who comprise the closest the United States has to state-run propaganda – have engaged in a baseless smear campaign against Mueller as the special counselor continues to quickly home in on Trump’s inner circle.
“It abets a cover-up because there is a cover-up going on in the White House and among Trump’s aides and former aides relating to the investigations,” Bernstein told Stelter. “We don’t know what the cover-up is about, whether it constitutes an obstruction of justice or a criminal conspiracy at this point.”
“But yes,” he added “because the commentators that you are hearing and showing are not open in any way to the best obtainable version of the truth, to facts, context, who seem to be oblivious to the serial lying of the President of the United States and members of his family and staff. They are abetting a cover-up.”
Even Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has suggested that his party give Mueller “a chance to do his job.”
“I would encourage my Republican friends, give the guy a chance to do his job. The result will be known by the facts, by what he uncovers,” Gowdy said in an interview on Fox News Sunday. “The personalities involved are much less important to me than the underlying facts,” he added. “So, I would say give the guy a chance to do his job.”
While Trump has condemned the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election as a “witch hunt,” Gowdy cast off the claim as unfounded.
“I think Bob Mueller has a really distinguished career of service to our country,” he said. “I don’t think any of your viewers can think of a single thing he did as the FBI director that calls them to have a lack of confidence in him… I think most of your viewers have to be reminded that he actually was the FBI director or that he actually was a U.S. attorney, because he’s a pretty apolitical guy.”
This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2017
Trump would be well served to let justice run its course, but Americans know better than to trust a President who cannot help but lie on a constant basis. At the very least, Trump must know full well that the consequences of such an ill-advised move would be all but catastrophic.