I’m always looking for strategic ideas that might help in the critical political battle in which we are engaged in these times. This one in particular I hope will be taken up and implemented. It is timely, and if implemented could put our side in a much stronger position than just waiting to have to react to a fait accompli. It is simple. It provides leverage to pressure and/or damage the irresponsible congressional Republicans. If you agree, I hope you will help get the idea to those congressional Democrats who are in the best position to implement it, or at least to people who might also help build momentum behind it.
Given that 1) the Trump/Russia investigation is a matter of utmost national importance, 2) Robert Mueller is someone all Americans can trust to do that investigation right, 3) the President has the power to fire Mueller to protect himself, and 4) Trump has already shown a desire to block the investigation—given all those things, steps should be taken now to defend against Trump’s firing Mueller.
Namely, Congress should warn the president: firing Mueller would be an impeachable offense.
There can be no good reason for firing Mueller. Leaders from both parties agreed that Mueller is both extremely able and a man of unquestioned integrity. The appointment of Mueller – whom George W. Bush once appointed Director of the FBI — to head the investigation was universally praised.
But while there may be no good reason to fire Mueller, Trump has already shown — when the president told NBC’s Lester Holt that he fired James Comey to stop this investigation – that he might fire Mueller for a bad reason: namely, to obstruct justice.
That’s why the warning should be given to this president: let Mueller do his job. Or else.
Grassroots should encourage the Democrats to raise this banner – “Firing Mueller would be an impeachable offense” – and then congressional Democrats should publicly press the Republicans to join in that warning to the president.
Because the great majority of the American people support the investigation going forward, and because there’s universal confidence in Mueller, this is an apt point to pressure the Republicans in Congress to stop putting purely partisan concerns ahead of the nation, and their constitutional duty.
Persuading the Republicans to make this shift will be helped by addressing those in Trumpworld who believe President Trump’s characterizations of the Trump/Russia probe as “fake news,” a “hoax,” “a made-up story.”
Such a belief can readily be refuted: if this Trump/Russia probe were bogus, if there were not important reasons for conducting such an investigation, would a man of Mueller’s ability and integrity have accepted the job?
For that matter, the same can be said about another Republican, James Comey, the FBI director conducting that investigation until he was fired by President Trump. However much some have questioned Comey’s judgment regarding actions he took during the 2016 presidential campaign, even his most severe critics have recognized him as a man of integrity.
Really, can there be any question of who is more credible on the issue of the importance of this probe: two of the nation’s most competent law enforcement officials, with long records of integrity, or this president, whose lack of truthfulness is by now legendary?
All of which points to another, related point on which the Republicans in Congress should be challenged by their Democratic colleagues. “Tell your supporters that the media are not the ‘enemy of the people,’ that they are doing just what our founders wanted a free press to do to help preserve our liberties and our constitutional order.”
Trump’s ludicrous accusations about “fake news” are attempts to persuade his follower to disregard what the press in the U.S. and around the world are reporting, and to listen only to him. The Republicans in Congress should be compelled either to endorse that indefensible position or to repudiate it.
The battle over truthful news – which should be winnable — connects with helping the Trump/Russia investigation protect the integrity of the American system of government in this way: the more Americans recognize the legitimacy and importance of the investigation Mueller heads, the greater the ability of that investigation to leave greater national unity in its aftermaths.
This campaign to press both Democrats and Republicans — to warn the President that his firing Mueller would be regarded as an impeachable offense — should begin immediately.
Maybe Trump wouldn’t dare fire Mueller but how can anyone – looking at Trump’s record as candidate and as president – feel confident about that?
Maybe there’s no rush on this. Maybe Trump would not cut off Mueller (as Nixon did to Archibald Cox) until the investigation was closing in on him more tightly. But again, do Trump’s past actions give grounds for confidence that he would not act precipitously, and would not brazenly challenge the system to hold him accountable?
Better to act now—to warn the President not to interfere with the investigation. And to press the Republicans to stop putting party ahead of the nation, to defend not their reckless president but the Constitution they took an oath to protect.