That settles it then. Mueller is safe.
Because when Donald Trump makes a vow, that vow is unbreakable.
Ryan’s gambling a lot on these “assurances.”
NEW: Speaker Ryan tells @marykbruce Special Counsel Robert Muller should be allowed to continue his investigation "to its completion without interference."
— World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) March 20, 2018
He has two options in responding to POTUS’s Twitter fit about Mueller and Russiagate this past weekend. Option one: Do nothing and be accused of cowering before Trump by Democrats. Option two: Pass a bill that further limits the president’s authority to remove the special counsel and be accused of cowering before Democrats by Trump voters. Passing a bill would force a confrontation with Trump when that bill lands on his desk. He’d veto it, claiming that it violates separation of powers, and then Ryan and McConnell would have to make a very hard choice between joining with Democrats to override the veto or backing down.
Why force that confrontation when you don’t absolutely need to (yet)?
Mentioning the “assurances” he’s received is Ryan’s way of carving out a third option, I think. By announcing (or strongly suggesting) that Trump personally promised him that he wouldn’t fire Mueller, Ryan’s staking the president’s credibility on fulfilling that promise. If Trump turns around tomorrow and cans Mueller, Ryan now has a reason to be adversarial with him. He didn’t just place himself above the law by firing the special counsel, he could say, he lied to me personally and, by extension, deceived his party about his intentions. He’s trying to gain the high ground against Trump just in case they find themselves at odds soon.
But that assumes that Ryan would choose the confrontational path once Mueller is axed and Republicans are forced to decide whose side to take. Nothing in the past 16 months indicates that he would, especially if Trump were to cashier Mueller before the midterms and Republican turnout this fall suddenly depended on the party presenting a unified front in a constitutional crisis.
Meanwhile, POTUS seems to have been persuaded — for now — that any problem he has with Mueller can be solved by shaking up his own legal team. Former U.S. Attorney Joe diGenova (who once argued that sitting presidents can indeed be indicted) has come aboard and Ted Olson’s name is suddenly being floated. Ty Cobb, the current leader of Team Trump, may be on the chopping block while John Dowd, who mused this past weekend that maybe it was time for Rod Rosenstein to fire Mueller, has apparently had enough of his unmanageable nightmare client. Here’s a fun point of contention between POTUS and his attorneys:
Trump has told aides he is “champing at the bit” to sit for an interview [with Mueller], according to one person. But his lawyers, who are carefully negotiating the terms of a sit-down, recognize the extraordinarily high stakes.
“The president believes he is his best spokesman and can explain to Mr. Mueller that he did nothing wrong,” sniffed the NYT. “The lawyers see little upside.” Maybe the shake-up on his legal team is POTUS’s way of signaling that he will not rest until he finds just one lawyer in America who thinks it’s a good idea for him to do an interview with Mueller’s team. Surely there must be one somewhere in a country of more than 300 million people.
No. There actually isn’t. Not one.
Well … maybe that guy who represented Roy Moore and called Don Lemon “Lemon squeezy.”
Exit question: When does Alan Dershowitz join the team? He has all the qualifications POTUS wants in a lawyer or, really, in a human being. He’s famous, he’s on TV *a lot,* and he spends much of his time attacking Donald Trump’s enemies. What more could you want in an employee?