In his latest flagrant slap to the face of American rule of law, Donald Trump has reportedly considered firing special investigator Robert Mueller, apparently for the mere fact that he is investigating Donald Trump. However, he can’t quite do so unilaterally, as the Times reported:
Under Justice Department rules, Mr. Trump would seemingly have to order Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein to rescind department regulations protecting a special counsel from being fired for no good reason, and then to fire Mr. Mueller. If Mr. Rosenstein refused, Mr. Trump could fire him, too — a series of events that would recall the “Saturday Night Massacre” during Watergate, when President Richard M. Nixon sought to dismiss a special prosecutor, Archibald Cox.
When reached for comment, however, Rosenstein seems like he won’t be an easy pushover.
Here’s his exact language, from his testimony to the Senate Appropriations Committee:
“I’m not going to follow any orders unless I believe that those are lawful and appropriate orders,” Mr. Rosenstein said, adding: “If there were good cause, I would consider. If there were not good cause, it would not matter what anybody says.”
Later, when asked directly whether he had seen any evidence of “good cause,” he was equally emphatic:
“No, I have not,” Mr. Rosenstein replied, adding: “You have my assurance that we are going to faithfully follow that regulation, and Director Mueller is going to have the full independence he needs to conduct that investigation.”
Now, there are still ways around this. Trump can rescind the regulation that establishes the burden of “good cause” for such a firing, or he could simply fire Rosenstein and install someone more to his liking. But let’s take solace in the fact that, at least for the moment, there’s someone associated with this administration who appears to be acting in good faith. Who would have guessed?