December 18, 2018 | ° F

DEANGELO: If Mueller is fired, so is President Trump


Opinions Column: All That Fits


juliadeangelo

"It's an attack on our country in a true sense,” a seething President Donald J. Trump said. “It's an attack on what we all stand for.”

Indeed. The recent verbal batters made by our least democratic president against former Director of the F.B.I. Robert Mueller and his team should sound off blaring alarms. We, as the American people, have become increasingly numb toward the pervasiveness of this issue — which is that our president has expressed a challenge against the rule of law. No matter what, this should not be taken lightly. 

Following the F.B.I.’s legal raid of the office, home and hotel room of his longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, the president took aim at the special council appointed to look into Russian connections with his 2016 election campaign. Only this time, the on-camera meltdown was at its sharpest. Sitting cross-armed, Trump called the ordeal “a disgrace” and went as far as to mention some people have asked him why he has not yet fired Mueller. His responses may as well have said, “I’m dying to.” 

According to reports made by The Washington Post, the F.B.I. sought and obtained search warrants because of a federal inquiry into allegations of bank and wire fraud, as well as violating campaign finance rules — a.k.a. the 2016 payoff to Stormy Daniels. 

Though unlike how they are often painted, these probes do not suggest that the allegations against Cohen are true, nor do they imply that the president is guilty of anything. But, the reality and escalation of this investigation alone is turning historical. 

Contrary to what White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Tuesday, it should be clear that Trump himself cannot fire Mueller. Only the attorney general of the United States, or the circumstantial figure next in line, has the power to do so. And since Attorney General Jeff Sessions excused himself from all issues related to the special council’s probe, Mueller and his subpoenas are in the hands of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

What Trump can do is follow in the reckless steps of former President Richard Nixon and force each acting attorney general out until they comply to his wishes. But even then, we all know the Watergate investigation still continued on after the removal of Archibald Cox

So, on the off-chance that Trump fires Rosenstein, and as a result uses his executive power to constrain Mueller, he will set an alarming precedent — one that will reassure a sitting president can potentially commit crimes and fire the people investigating them.

If this happens, Congress must take action to impeach and remove him from office. The United States cannot allow leaders to act with intentions issuing they are above constitutional law. 

Yesterday, the president routinely vetted his feelings on Twitter and called the Russia investigation "fake and corrupt” for the first time, noting that it is “headed up by the all Democrat loyalists.” Except, it is not. Mueller, Sessions, former F.B.I. Director James Comey, Rosenstein, former Deputy Director of the F.B.I. Andrew McCabe and the majority of the players that have been involved in this “disgrace” are respected Republicans. They are simply acting like the type of Republicans who serve the Constitution, not the beck and calls of the supreme leader.   

There is no evidence that the F.B.I. is being prejudiced or biased against the president. Frank Bruni argued in his column for The New York Times that Trump’s accusations of them being such is telling the American people not to trust their government. 

If he was smart, the president would follow advice, sit back and hope the problem disappears with time and “no collusion.” The more blood vessels he bursts with caps lock and exclamation marks in his denouncements, the greater light of public attention he shines. After all, the likelihood that Mueller will bring any criminal charges directly against Trump is variably slim. The Justice Department has been long against ever indicting a sitting president.

The lingering question is: why is the leader of our republic trying so hard to suppress the actions of a supposed total witch hunt? If there is nothing to hide, why go to such lengths?

What is at stake is far greater than any scandal with a porn star or money deals with an enemy state. The stomps of Trump’s feet are shaking the grounds of our democracy. 

Julia Deangelo is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in journalism and media studies. Her column, "All That Fits," runs on alternate Thursdays. 

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Julia Deangelo

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