Trump just issued his most direct hint that he's looking to fire special counsel Robert Mueller. His Republican enablers in the Senate still refuse to do anything about it.
Senate Republicans insist that Trump firing special counsel Robert Mueller would be “bad” and even “suicide,” but they’re not willing to do anything to prevent it.
Trump issued his clearest public threat yet on Monday, during an unhinged-even-for-him rant about the FBI’s raid on the home and office of longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen.
“Why don’t I just fire Mueller? Well, I think it’s a disgrace what’s going on. We’ll see what happens,” Trump said Monday. “But I think it’s a really sad situation when you look at what happened, and many people have said you should fire him.”
It’s not a secret that Trump wants to end the investigation, or that he’s willing to go to extraordinary lengths to obstruct it.
But while Democrats are calling for Congress to take steps to protect the investigation before it’s too late, Republicans are, incredibly, still waiting for … well, it’s not clear what they’re waiting for.
The Republican Party’s Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, said “Mueller should be allowed to finish his job,” but brushed off calls for action.
“I haven’t seen a clear indication that we need to pass something because I don’t think he’s going to be removed,” McConnell said, ignoring Trump’s threats.
Sen. John Thune (R-SD) dismissed the idea of legislation entirely.
“I don’t know that that’s necessary. You know?” He added that “legislating on this” might not be “the right path forward.”
Others, like Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD), are apparently counting on Trump to exercise good judgment.
“Trump doesn’t need to be told it’s a bad idea to fire Mueller,” Rounds said. “He already knows it’s a bad idea.”
Trump has never shied away from pursuing bad ideas, though. If anything, he’s infamous for doing things because he’s been told they’re a bad idea.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who has previously called for legislation to protect Mueller, also shrugged off Trump’s threat.
“I’m not worried about Trump firing Mueller,” he said. “I think he’s smarter than that.”
Last July, Graham was singing a different tune. He was at least worried enough to urge both parties to pass a bill to protect Mueller’s investigation.
“Any effort to go after Mueller could be the beginning of the end of the Trump presidency,” he said. “We need a check and balance here.”
But now, after several months of more of Trump’s less-than-smart actions and Monday’s not-so-subtle threat, Graham isn’t worried.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) used stark language to “warn” Trump.
“I think it would be suicide for the president to fire him,” Grassley said Tuesday. “I think the less the president says about this whole thing, the better off he will be. And I think Mueller is a person of stature and respected and I respect him. Just let the thing go forward.”
But Grassley has yet to endorse legislation to protect the investigation, which Democrats continue to call for.
On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer detailed exactly why the investigation is so critical and must be protected.
“Special counsel Mueller, a Republican, has uncovered a deep and detailed pattern of Russian interference in our elections that has led to indictments and guilty pleas,” Schumer said. “It has also led to the Trump administration itself leveling sanctions against Russian individuals for meddling in our elections, proof that it’s not a so-called ‘witch-hunt.'”
Some Republicans seem to acknowledge that the investigation is important and must continue.
But they’re still choosing party over country, sending a signal to Trump that if he wants to fire Mueller, they have no plans to stop him.