The Sunday shows confirmed an alarming development: Republicans in Congress do not feel any urgency to protect special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation, even though it has now been confirmed that President Trump tried to fire Mueller — and that the possibility of Trump trying to remove Mueller is seen as very real by Trump’s own advisers right now.
This sets up a possible worst-case scenario in the coming confrontation with Mueller that could take us into territory that is beyond anything this country endured during #Watergate. To flesh this out, I spoke to Tim Weiner, the veteran journalist and author of a highly regarded, harshly critical history of the FBI that chronicles Richard Nixon’s battles with the agency.
“We are two tweets away from an extraordinary constitutional crisis,” Weiner told me. “We are in a very dangerous point now in American political life.”
Over the weekend, after the New York Times reported that Trump ordered White House counsel Donald McGahn to fire Mueller last June and only backed down after McGahn threatened to quit, some Republicans did rhetorically warn Trump against trying to remove Mueller. But the real tell was in their suggestion that the danger has passed, meaning there is no need to pass legislation that would subject an effort to remove Mueller to review by a panel of judges.
“I see no evidence that Mr. Trump wants to fire Mr. Mueller now,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.). “The president listened to good advice from his advisers,” said Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa). “I don’t think there’s a need for legislation right now to protect Mueller,” said Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).