The New York Times has now reported what we’ve long suspected: Trump wants to fire Special Counsel Mueller, and has already tried to do so. His attorney prevented the firing, but that doesn’t mean that the independent investigation is safe. A smear campaign among Trump and the GOP continues to frame Mueller and his investigation as illegitimate, and Congress has so far failed to enact protections for the Special Counsel’s office.
What’s worse, the Republican smear campaign now includes a fake scandal known as #ReleaseTheMemo. Rep. Devin Nunes has written a document with misleading talking points designed to undermine the Mueller investigation and paint a target on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s back (he hired Mueller in the first place after Jeff Sessions recused himself). This is an effort to give political cover to Trump and the Republicans in their quest to impede the investigation and obstruct justice.
The investigation has already yielded a string of high-profile indictments. General Michael Flynn, former National Security Advisor to Trump, has reached a plea deal with the Special Counsel in which Flynn agreed to cooperate with the investigation after admitting to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russia. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was indicted on several charges, including conspiracy against the United States. (Let that sink in: the person who managed Trump’s presidential campaign has now been charged with conspiracy against the United States.) Manafort’s associate Rick Gates has also been indicted, and Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos has pled guilty to lying to the FBI about his communications with Russia.
Most recently, Special Counsel Mueller indicted thirteen Russians on allegations of interfering in the U.S. elections.
These developments are the latest evidence that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation continues to get closer to the truth. That means he, and those associated with his investigation (including Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein), are even more at risk of being fired by Donald Trump.
WHO IS ROBERT MUELLER AND WHY DOES HE MATTER?
Robert Mueller is the special counsel appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. He was appointed after then FBI Director James Comey, who was leading the investigation into Russian interference, was fired by Donald Trump. After immense public pressure to insulate the investigation from political interference, Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller to lead an independent investigation. Mueller is a Republican, respected by both sides of the aisle, who previously served as FBI director under President George W. Bush and also President Obama.
FIRING COMEY CREATED A CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS. FIRING MUELLER WOULD BE A CRISIS TIMES TEN.
Firing Comey was obstruction of justice, pure and simple. But firing Mueller would be far worse—because the entire reason Mueller has this job is to protect the investigation from political interference. No one is above the law, especially not the President of the United States. When President Nixon in the Saturday Night Massacre demanded the firing of Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor looking into Watergate, Congress and the American people recognized that for what it was—a turning point and a crisis that would later spell the end of the Nixon presidency. Since Mueller is leading the investigation in place of someone else who was already inappropriately fired, his firing would be especially concerning.
IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT FIRING MUELLER. THERE ARE OTHER WAYS TRUMP COULD HURT THE INVESTIGATION.
We know that Mueller is at risk of being fired. But that’s not the only way that Trump can inhibit his investigation.
There are other “red lines” that Trump could cross, and we will take to the streets if he crosses them.
- If Trump fires Mueller
- If Trump fires Rosenstein
- If Trump pardons key witnesses
- If Trump takes another action that prevents the investigation from being conducted freely (such as repealing the regulations establishing the office)
If these red lines are crossed, we are ready to respond. Be sure to sign up here to host or attend a crisis response event to make sure you receive the most up-to-date information.
WHAT CAN YOU DO NOW?
This investigation is ongoing, and there may very well be more developments. While it’s important to focus and continue to resist the Trump agenda simultaneously, we can also work now to protect the Mueller investigation as it unfolds. Here’s how:
- All Americans need to be clear that we will not stand for this. Indivisible is teaming up with a coalition of groups to host emergency rallies in the event that Trump crosses a red line. We hope that this terrible event will not come to pass—but if it does, we will all need to stand firm and make it clear that no one is above the law. Sign up to host or attend a rally here.
- Ask Congress to prevent Mueller from getting fired. It is the duty of Congress, as a separate co-equal branch of government, to guard against abuses of the Executive Branch. That’s why the framers of the Constitution created separation of powers. Our elected officials need to speak out and make clear that firing Mueller would be a red line that Trump must not cross. Senators can co-sponsor legislation to protect against a Mueller firing: S. 1735 led by Senators Graham and Booker, and S. 1741 led by Senators Coons and Tillis. Representatives in the House can co-sponsor H.R. 3771, led by Representative Jones.
SAMPLE CALL SCRIPT
Caller: Hi! I’m a constituent from [part of state] I’m calling to urge [MoC] to use every tool in the toolbox to prevent Trump from firing Special Counsel Mueller or otherwise impeding the investigation, such as by firing Rod Rosenstein. I’m concerned he may do that, launching a constitutional crisis. Will [MoC] speak out and tell the President that firing Mueller would be a red line he must not cross?
Staffer: Thank you for your call. [MoC] is monitoring the various investigations closely and is letting them run their course.
Caller: That’s good, but it’s really important for Congress to assert its power now to prevent Trump from firing Mueller. I’d like to see [MoC] issue a clear statement on this, and co-sponsor [H.R. 3771/S. 1735 or S. 1741] to show [his/her] support for protecting Mueller and the investigation.
Staffer: We’ll take a look at that legislation.
Caller: Great, I’ll be following to see if [MoC] co-sponsors and speaks out on this.