It would appear that Robert Mueller isn’t going anywhere anytime soon as The New York Times explains.
Conservatives have been celebrating a couple of victories this week: Trump’s selection of Brett M. Kavanaugh as his nominee to replace Justice Anthony M. Kennedy on the Supreme Court and Senate confirmation of Brian Benczkowski to head the Justice Department’s criminal division.
Democrats object to both nominations, perceiving them to be another effort to obstruct Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
As Vox reported earlier this week, Trump likely nominated Kavanaugh because of his written view on whether a sitting president can be held criminally accountable for his or her actions.
Kavanaugh wrote in an article for the Minnesota Law Review from 2009 that Congress should pass a law “exempting a President—while in office—from criminal prosecution and investigation, including from questioning by criminal prosecutors or defense counsel.”
“I believe that the President should be excused from some of the burdens of ordinary citizenship while serving in office,” Kavanaugh wrote. “We should not burden a sitting President with civil suits, criminal investigations, or criminal prosecutions.” Furthermore, Kavanaugh opined that the “indictment and trial of a sitting President” would “cripple the federal government.”
Turning to Benczkowski, The Washington Post reported that Democrats had concerns regarding his potential connection to Mueller’s investigation:
Democrats asserted the veteran Republican lawyer was the wrong man for the job because he had never been a prosecutor and had once represented Alfa Bank, a Russian financial institution that was alleged to have a Trump Organization connection.
“Why does President Trump want Brian Benczkowski for this important job?” Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), who along with other Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee had called for Benczkowski’s nomination to be withdrawn, wrote on Twitter last week. “Why not find an attorney who has actual prosecutorial experience and who is free and clear from Russian connections?”
In the midst of these developments, there is some good news. As The New York Times explained on Thursday, there is every reason to believe that “it just got harder to fire Mueller.”
According to The NY Times:
It’s just become trickier for President Trump to fire Robert Mueller anytime soon. Doing so during the Supreme Court confirmation process for Brett Kavanaugh — which is likely to last for at least two months — would create a set of problems for Trump that didn’t exist before.
Continuing, New York Times columnist David Leonhardt explained that there are three barriers that he can count to firing Mueller now:
- “Trump clearly loves making Supreme Court nominations. They allow him to look presidential and to be bathed in praise by other Republicans. If he were to fire Mueller… the confirmation process would immediately lose its normalcy. It would be dominated by discussion of Mueller’s Russia investigation, which Trump loathes and makes him look like the opposite of a normal president.”
- “[F]iring Mueller could damage the Republicans’ chances of holding Congress in this year’s midterms… [I]f Trump tried to end that investigation, it would immediately create the kind of chaos that typically hurts the party in the White House. As is, the Supreme Court nomination has some real political advantages for Republicans. It unifies their base voters and reminds them of reasons to turn out. And it turns the discussion away from Trump, who remains unpopular.”
- “Finally, firing Mueller could damage Kavanaugh’s chances of confirmation. As I’ve written before, I would be very surprised if any Senate Republicans defected. But their margin for error is virtually zero. Losing a single senator could defeat the nomination. And the circus that would accompany the firing of Mueller could certainly imperil one vote.”
Continuing his analysis, Leonhardt explained that this should keep Mueller safe through Labor Day. However, “Labor Day is traditionally considered the start of the most intense period of a fall campaign, which would be another bad time for Trump to make a radical power grab.”
“All of this,” Leonhardt concluded, “creates yet another reason the midterms are so enormously important.”
The tide could potentially turn in a big way against Trump after the midterms, making Mueller’s survival all but guaranteed – that is if liberals and progressives get out the vote and make substantial gains in the House and Senate, giving them the power to push back against Trump and his ongoing efforts to obstruct Mueller and his investigation.