This week the Democrats in Congress launched a full frontal assault aimed at forcing the resignation or firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Something major has clearly changed behind the scenes, as up until now, the Democrats had been afraid that the ouster of Sessions might give Donald Trump an excuse to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. So what’s suddenly changed here?
This week the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee revealed that they’re hauling in Jeff Sessions to grill him in public hearings on his role in the Trump-Russia scandal. Congressman Ted Lieu went on cable news with the aim of destroying Sessions. Senator Kamala Harris launched an online petition aimed at forcing Sessions out of office. The Democratic Party no longer has any fear that ousting Sessions might get Mueller fired. They’ve now concluded, with a good deal of confidence, that Mueller’s job is secure. I have no inside information on what’s behind their shift in strategy – but I can offer a good guess.
The Republicans in Congress saw their futures flash before them on Tuesday, as their party’s candidates got wiped out in elections across the nation. The mainstream public is clearly intent on punishing the Republican Party for as long as it leaves Donald Trump in power. This means the GOP’s best chance of not getting totally wiped out in the 2018 midterms is if Trump is gone by then. Of course the Republicans in Congress don’t want Trump’s base to blame them for his demise, either. It’s much easier for them if they sit back and let Mueller expose Trump as being so guilty in so many ways that his ouster becomes a foregone conclusion. That way Trump’s base will blame Mueller for Trump’s ouster, and the Republicans in Congress can head into the midterms without the albatross around their necks.
After the election shellacking this week, the Republican leadership must have made the decision this week to firmly keep Robert Mueller in power so he can finish off Donald Trump for them. The Democrats must have sensed it, and they’ve now concluded that it’s safe to force Jeff Sessions out of power, because Mueller isn’t going anywhere. Trump can’t fire Mueller if the Republicans don’t approve, because they could immediately resurrect the Independent Counsel statute and reappoint Mueller. So my best guess is that the Democrats know the Republican leadership is now locked in with Mueller – and now the Democrats are going to make Sessions pay the price.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report