Friday, January 26, 2018

White House Counsel Resignation Threat Stopped Trump From Firing Mueller


Watching the train wreck that is the Trump/Pence White House, one would think that even a dumb as a brick narcissist like Trump would have learned from the firing of James Comey that firing those investigating you and/or your enablers and sycophants really is not a smart idea.  Yet, last night the New York Times reported that back in June, 2017, Trump ordered special counsel Robert Mueller fired.  Indeed, only the refusal of White House counsel  Donald F. McGahn II to carry out the order followed by McGahn's treat to resign stopped Der Trumpenf├╝hrer from a move that would have greatly increased the political crisis that has basically gripped the country since before before Trump moved into the White House.  Trump's enablers and apologists can whine and rant all they want, but the one clear take away is that Trump is trying to hide something and will go to great lengths to thwart legitimate investigations. Here are excerpts from the Time's newest report: 
President Trump ordered the firing last June of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation, according to four people told of the matter, but ultimately backed down after the White House counsel threatened to resign rather than carry out the directive.
The West Wing confrontation marks the first time Mr. Trump is known to have tried to fire the special counsel. Mr. Mueller learned about the episode in recent months as his investigators interviewed current and former senior White House officials in his inquiry into whether the president obstructed justice.
[Trump] began to argue that Mr. Mueller had three conflicts of interest that disqualified him from overseeing the investigation, two of the people said.
First, he claimed that a dispute years ago over fees at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va., had prompted Mr. Mueller, the F.B.I. director at the time, to resign his membership. The president also said Mr. Mueller could not be impartial because he had most recently worked for the law firm that previously represented the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Finally, the president said, Mr. Mueller had been interviewed to return as the F.B.I. director the day before he was appointed special counsel in May.
After receiving the president’s order to fire Mr. Mueller, the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, refused to ask the Justice Department to dismiss the special counsel, saying he would quit instead, the people said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing a continuing investigation.
Mr. McGahn disagreed with the president’s case and told senior White House officials that firing Mr. Mueller would have a catastrophic effect on Mr. Trump’s presidency. Mr. McGahn also told White House officials that Mr. Trump would not follow through on the dismissal on his own. The president then backed off.
Mr. McGahn, a longtime Republican campaign finance lawyer in Washington who served on the Federal Election Commission, was the top lawyer on Mr. Trump’s campaign. He has been involved in nearly every key decision Mr. Trump has made — like the firing of the former F.B.I. director — that is being scrutinized by Mr. Mueller. Another option that Mr. Trump considered in discussions with his advisers was dismissing the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, and elevating the department’s No. 3 official, Rachel Brand, to oversee Mr. Mueller. Mr. Rosenstein has overseen the investigation since March, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself. Mr. Trump has long demonstrated a preoccupation with those who have overseen the Russia investigation. In March, after Mr. McGahn failed to persuade Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from the inquiry, Mr. Trump complained that he needed someone loyal to oversee the Justice Department.
The former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said Mr. Trump asked him for loyalty and encouraged him to drop an investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn. Mr. Comey said he sidestepped those requests. He was soon fired.
The parallels between Trump's actions and the firings that brought Watergate - and Nixon's ultimate resignation - to a head are uncanny.  Having lived through that era and watched many of the hearings, I continue to believe that Trump is guilty of something be it collusion with Russia and/or obstruction of justice. Something stinks to high heaven.   

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