Of course, he’s going to fire Mueller.
Of course, it’s going to trigger a constitutional crisis.
Of course, Republicans will do nothing.
Every single day, Tyrannosaurus Don tests the limits of his enclosure. Every day, he pushes against the walls, looking for weak spots and for places where the electric fence isn’t working. Outside, the zookeepers in this Jurassic political park toss a cow carcass over the wall, praise their big boy dino, and marvel how large his fingers look. They smile and congratulate themselves that they’ve appeased the monster for another day, managing its violent, ravenous urges.
The beast never rests, though. It’s never satisfied with boundaries, limits, laws, or traditions. Every day, Trump wants what he wants, even if it destroys everything around him. What he wants right now is to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, end the Russia investigation, and prevent his allies, friends, and family members from being sent to the Graybar Hotel and his legacy to the dustbin of history.
Republicans who believe firing Mueller will change the political dynamic and free Trump to do whatever the hell they think he’d do without the special counsel on the scene are dreaming. Trump is already permanently stained, a president with an asterisk next to his name, a joke, a con, and a political poison that’s devouring their campaigns and their legacies. Even the White House clown bus of mooks, slowcoaches, edge case cranks, and kissers of his double-wide backside seem to understand more than the GOP in Congress; he’s crazier than a rat in a septic tank, and only Congress has any power over his behavior.
The Trump signals that he’s going to fire Robert Mueller need a more real, vigorous, and blunt response than any member of the House or Senate has yet provided. For being such fans of the Constitution, Republicans seems to have forgotten they’re in a co-equal branch of government and swore an oath to protect the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. Dismissing the special counsel in the middle of an investigation of foreign interference, obstruction of justice, and ties to hostile foreign powers isn’t just reckless; it’s politically idiotic.
I understand the argument that both Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell need to calibrate their remarks to stay in the middle of the sentiment of their respective caucuses. Paul Ryan knows the Trump-hadis, yahoos, InfoWars conspiracy fanboys (looking at you, Matt Gaetz), dead-enders, and political anarchists on his right flank are restive, worrisome, and would stone him to death in a hot minute if Trump asked them to do so. In the center of the GOP caucus, the sense of doom is so thick you can cut it with a knife. For McConnell, his crafty, baroque mental calculus is less clear, but with Jeff Flake and John McCain headed out the door, he’s left with almost no one willing to publicly stand up and take on this president. For all that, both men are on the hot seat this week as Trump edges closer to Muellerdämmerung.
McConnell’s statement on Tuesday was a Rorschach test. Some praised it for being a clear signal, and it was to the D.C. media. For Trump? Not as much.
“Bob Mueller should be allowed to finish his job. I think it was an excellent appointment. I think he will go wherever the facts lead him and I think he will have great credibility with the American people when he reaches the conclusion of this investigation. So I have a lot of confidence,” McConnell said. “This is a thoroughly credible individual, I think it was an appropriate appointment, and we all anticipate his finishing the job and telling the American people what they need to know about this episode.”
Ryan’s statement on Mueller was deeply embarrassing. “I received assurances that his firing is not even under consideration,” said the speaker of the House, before noting he had to get back and reply to an urgent email from a Nigerian prince, finalize a bridge purchase, and order some totally legit Viagra from ReelMedz4U.ru.
My first response was, “Are you kidding me?” For this president, these statements didn’t even rise to the level of a mild, hypothetical caution, much less a reprimand. Just as a rat can crawl into spaces that seem impossibly tight, Trump looks at these elliptical, subtle signals as a sign he can fire Mueller and get away with it.
In Trump’s mind, their statements were nothing. They weren’t warnings; they were permission slips.
Donald Trump isn’t subtle. He isn’t strategic. He needs to be told in vivid, sharp, clear words, “If you do this, you’re going to be impeached, dragged hard, humiliated, investigated, have your taxes made public, pictures of your junk on poster boards as we discuss porn star payoffs on the Senate floor.” He needs to hear it loud and clear; “We know you’ve already wrecked our chances of holding the majority, but we’re not letting you drag the country down with us.”
The way to accomplish this is by passing legislation that protects the special counsel from Trump’s obstruction and tampering. The chances of that are roughly the same as me waking up tomorrow 50 pounds lighter and with a full mane of luxurious golden hair.
Understanding how to contain Donald Trump isn’t complicated. In every single domain of his entire life, Donald Trump is a cheater. This isn’t ad hominem. It’s documented fact in every part of his career in business, marriage, and politics. He will take advantage of any leeway, loophole, gullibility, or porn starlet he sees.
Donald Trump views red lines as green lights. The transgressive, disruptive nature of Trump is beloved by his base, and by an army of formerly conservative writers now eagerly fluffing the president’s rampant statism, corruption, and obstruction. They desperately want the narrative to become, “Donald the Magnificent girds his loins, defeats Mueller and evil sorceress Hillary in single combat, as bountiful harvests and happy peasants follow. Bards sing his praises for a thousand years.”
Even if Republicans believe Mueller ought to be fired, and hate him for being the skunk at the garden party of Trumpism, their political fortunes rest in part on whether voters see them as accomplices to a lawless, dishonest, corrupt president. If Trumpism is so powerfully hypnotic that they put their political survival after this president’s whims, I suppose they’re beyond counsel and help, but it hasn’t stopped me from trying.
For over a year, I have warned members of House and the Senate that Trump’s erratic behavior, shitbird affect, Putin-philia, moronic economic beliefs, hair-trigger temper, evident political disloyalty, and grunting, reckless dick-swinging bravado would rebound on them, and hard. The things Trump does please a narrow base repel everyone else. Trump voters are loyal to Trump, not to the GOP and certainly not to its members. Other Republicans take all the damage and reap none of the benefits.
In race after race, we’ve seen the future, and for Republicans, it’s dark. I’ve warned Republicans before he is driving an electoral and demographic wedge in American politics we can’t easily overcome, and imposing on the party a suite of problems no amount of money or Democratic Party campaign incompetence will solve.
The idea that the tax bill would save the GOP is so three months ago. It won’t. Trump has consumed the political space like a hungry singularity, dragging every issue, every policy, every one of the precious, focus-grouped “this’ll work” message points into the well of his entropic gravity. Firing Mueller will set off a chain of political consequences so far-reaching, and a crisis so sharp that Republicans will be marked by it for generations in the political wilderness. This will make 1974 look like high tea.
Trump repays loyalty with betrayal, obedience with abuse, and compliance with humiliation. Inaction, silence, acquiescence on firing Mueller and the political firestorm to follow is inevitable unless Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell personally step up, give Trump a clear warning even the slowest president in modern history could understand, and pass legislation to protect the special counsel’s work.