So now we know that Donald Trump tried to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller just a few weeks after he’d been appointed, then lost his nerve after his own White House Counsel refused to go along with it. This came after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, and then after it played out poorly for him, he leaked to the media that Jared Kushner had made him do it. Trump has blown it every time he’s fired someone, or for that matter, not fired someone.
Trump’s mistake with Comey wasn’t simply that he fired him. The timing was wrong. Trump could have fired Comey when he first took office, and considering how thoroughly the Democrats blamed Comey for his election meddling antics, no one would have objected. Nor would the firing have constituted obstruction of justice, because Trump didn’t know at the time that he was under investigation. Strategically speaking, if Trump did want to fire Comey, he waited far too long, until it was a crime and there were consequences.
Trump’s firing of Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was also rather absurd. He should have known that firing her would not have done anything to save his National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who by that time was thoroughly compromised. For that matter, Jeff Sessions was sworn in as Attorney General just days later, meaning that Yates wouldn’t have been in charge of the DOJ much longer anyway. Instead, by firing her, Trump put Yates in position to serve as a star witness in the obstruction case against him.
Donald Trump’s firing of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara didn’t seem to change much in hindsight, either, beyond turning Bharara into a respected household name. If Trump was afraid Bharara would uncover Trump’s decades of money laundering, Robert Mueller is going to do that anyway. In hindsight, all of these firings, delayed firings, and non-firings haven’t been the work of someone with a coherent strategy. This is the work of a paranoid and erratic man who can’t even get his villainy right. Trump has screwed up every one of these moves. Now even his non-firing of Mueller has left him criminally culpable.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report