Special Counsel Robert Mueller is still very much on the job, and he’s moving in on Donald Trump as we speak. Now we’re learning that Trump did in fact try to fire Mueller awhile back, which isn’t shocking, and that the attempt failed after Trump’s own people intervened. Here’s what is stunning: Trump wanted to fire Mueller over a dispute they had about golf. No, really.
Back in June, Trump ordered White House Counsel Don McGahn to order the Department of Justice to fire Mueller. McGahn refused and threatened to resign, and Trump backed down, according to the New York Times (link). Here’s the stunning part of the story. Trump’s rationale for firing Mueller: Trump “claimed that a dispute years ago over fees at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va., had prompted Mr. Mueller, the F.B.I. director at the time, to resign his membership.”
Notably, this all took place just a few weeks after Mueller was first appointed. Of course Mueller was appointed because Trump illegally fired FBI Director James Comey. This means that within a span of less than a month, Trump fired Comey, tried to fire Mueller, and then backed down. Since that time, Trump has been sitting back and allowing Mueller to pick off his co-conspirators one by one. Now we have a better sense of why: even Trump’s own people weren’t willing to get on board with the idea of taking on Mueller.
This also tells us a lot about how the endgame is going to shape up here. Donald Trump is brazen or stupid enough to make the same mistakes that took Richard Nixon down, but Trump’s own people aren’t stupid enough to join him in making those mistakes. Several of Nixon’s people went to prison for their roles in the Watergate coverup. In contrast, Trump’s people seem to be selling him out so they don’t have to go to prison.
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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report