"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"...doesn't philosophy amount to the sum of all thinkable and unthinkable errors, ceaselessly repeated?"--Jean-Luc Marion

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Run In Circles, Scream and Shout

Andrew Prokop explains why Trump won't soon, or easily, fire Mueller and end the investigation into his campaign's shenanigans (and Trump's obstruction of justice, which John Dean says is occurring in plain sight).  This is worth paying attention to because, as ever, the press deals with complex issues by ignoring most of the complexity and reporting merely on the soundbite du jour.

First, there was some discussion early on that Mueller could sue to keep his job, rather than be chopped off by the axe of Trump's ability to fire people.  That discussion didn't last long in the headlines (what does?), but it was soundly based:

Then there’s the why, which is also very important here. The regulation states that a special counsel can’t be fired on a whim. Instead, it says, he or she can only be fired for “misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or for other good cause.”

If Trump truly was hell-bent on dumping Mueller, these problems probably wouldn’t be insurmountable. But the solutions aren’t pretty — they all involve either more firings or some questionable legal claims.

There is, in other words and to begin with, an actual statute with actual words that actually will have to be followed.  Trump can't tweet his way out of this one, or send John Kelly to do his dirty work, or shout "You're fired!" in front of a crowd of yahoos.  Even if he's determined to dispatch Mueller, the mechanics of it are anything but straightforward.  The "Saturday Night Massacre" route would be ugly and not play well in the public narrative, where it would immediately be labeled a "constitutional crisis," not something even Trump wants going into November elections.  One thing overlooked in that narrative is that Robert Bork, Nixon's eventual hatchet man, appointed Leon Jaworski, who carried on where Cox left off.  Nixon shot his own foot off with that one, to no gain at all.  The crisis would be largely a product of the failure to change anything, combined with Trump's blatant actions, again, to obstruct justice.  It would play, of course, as a Dark Day In America (complete with its own theme music), but it would not give Trump what he wants, which is to be rid of this meddlesome, prosecutor.

Trump could fire Sessions, and appoint a new AG who doesn't have to recuse himself from the Russia matter, who could then direct Rosenstein or even fire him for non-compliance.  But the new appointment would require the approval of the Senate, and that may not happen soon, or easily.  Trump could also use the the Federal Vacancies Reform Act to replace Sessions or Rosenstein with someone who's already been confirmed by the Senate, who could then play the role of Bork and fire Mueller.  You get the idea, although Prokop lists two more options, with the note that each looks more corrupt and uglier than the last.

And firing Mueller doesn't end the investigation, which is another matter the press overlooks.

Currently, 17 prosecutors are working under Mueller in the special counsel’s office. They’re working with many FBI agents. They’ve convened at least two grand juries (in Washington, DC, and Alexandria, Virginia). They have live indictments against Paul Manafort (in two jurisdictions) and against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies. Mueller’s team has also banked guilty pleas from five people who have not yet been sentenced. There could even be sealed indictments we don’t know about (George Papadopoulos’s indictment was sealed for months).
The investigation is no more the personal action of Robert Mueller than the Administration of the U.S. Government is the personal business of Donald Trump.  Removing Mueller just means we later find a Leon Jaworski to finish the job.  And then there are the political consequences.  I knew people who thought Nixon was railroaded out of office, and never accepted that he was guilty of anything.  However, I also knew people whose opinions of Nixon's innocence changed dramatically after the Saturday Night Massacre.  Trump may fume about the Mueller investigation; but there isn't really anything he can do about it, and anything he tries to do, even tweeting his frustration, just makes the situation for him worse.


Blogger JACKIESUE said...

when in danger when in doubt
run in circles
scream and shout..

10:15 AM  

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