Special Counsel Robert Mueller arrested Donald Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort last week, and the tacit response from Trump was that he was perfectly willing to sacrifice Manafort in order to save himself. This week Mueller is on the verge of arresting Michael Flynn, who was closer to Trump; we don’t know how Trump might respond. But today it just became a whole lot more difficult for Trump to fire Mueller.
Palmer Report predicted that the first major arrests in the Trump-Russia scandal would convince a number of undecided and non-political Americans that the scandal truly was the real deal, and not just noise. Sure enough, a new CNN poll conducted after the first arrests reveals that Trump’s approval rating has dropped to its lowest point ever (link). More importantly, that same poll reveals that a record number of Americans now believe that the Trump-Russia scandal is a legitimate scandal.
This makes it far more difficult for Donald Trump to fire Robert Mueller. Trump seems to only care what his own base thinks. But the Republicans in Congress will ultimately decide whether or not Trump can get away with firing Mueller, and they care about more than just Trump’s base. Republican Senators will look at polls like this new one from CNN, and they’ll conclude that if Mueller is fired, it’ll cause far too much blowback. More specifically, they’ll come to fear that the blowback will land on them in the midterm races.
It’s not difficult to surmise why Donald Trump hasn’t yet fired Robert Mueller: the Republicans in Congress must have informed him awhile ago that if he goes through with it, they’ll just turn around and appoint Mueller to the more powerful role of Independent Counsel. Now that the arrests are convincing more Americans that Trump is guilty, the GOP will make even more clear to Trump that Mueller is off-limits. The GOP cares far more about its own midterm reelection prospects than it does about Trump’s fate.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report