If there’s one surefire way to get Trump to do something, it’s by telling him he can’t do it. Well played, Chris Christie.
I guess Christie’s given up on an administration job, huh? Either that or he’s following the Trey Gowdy path: He’ll be the dutiful partisan on most matters, but when you start trying to push around prosecutors for political reasons, he gets his back up. He’s a former U.S. Attorney himself, just as Gowdy’s a former AUSA.
Note his second comment below too, about the DOJ doing things by the book on attorney-client privilege. Executing a search warrant on a lawyer, let alone the president’s lawyer, is unusual but it does happen. As the Daily Beast says, the paradigm case is that of a mob lawyer: When an attorney’s participating in the commission of a client’s crime, he can’t hide behind the privilege to keep that evidence away from law enforcement. Every warrant needs to be approved by a judge too, and a warrant like this that’s destined to be closely scrutinized once it’s public certainly got a closer look from the magistrate than the average warrant application does. Yet it was still granted.
But it’s classic Trump to suggest that the privilege is dead just because he couldn’t take advantage of it in this case, just like it was classic Trump yesterday to claim that the raid was an attack on “our country” rather than on him and Cohen. His populist instinct is to turn his messes into your messes. It’s not that he screwed up, it’s that They are after You and he’s the scapegoat.
On @GMA, @ChrisChristie says he's told Pres. Trump firing special counsel Robert Mueller would be "a big problem": "You can't fire the special counsel. You just can't." https://t.co/42GTZzwid0 pic.twitter.com/QHPBMnEVP4
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) April 10, 2018
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) April 10, 2018
Ryan and McConnell had better huddle and figure out what they’re going to do if the axe falls on Sessions, Rosenstein, or especially Mueller. We’re firmly into anything-can-happen territory now:
“He’s sitting there bitching and moaning. He’s brooding and doesn’t have a plan,” a Republican close to the White House said last night. “I could see him having a total meltdown and saying, ‘F*** it, I’m firing all of them,’” a Trump friend told me. “This is very dry tinder. If someone strikes a match to it, you could see it catching fire,” added a former official.
Politico’s sources are also nervous:
Angry and increasingly isolated, the president is more unpredictable than ever, according to four people close to him.
These people worry that Trump – who has lost several key advisers in recent months, including former staff secretary Rob Porter, personal aide Johnny McEntee, and communications director Hope Hicks — may make a snap decision to fire senior Justice Department officials who he blames for Monday’s raid on the office and apartment of his personal lawyer Michael Cohen, a longtime confidant at the Trump Organization who remained in New York…
“He’s losing his sh*t,” the operative added. “We’re at a different level now.”
CNN’s sources claim that Mueller is the safest of the three, which is relatively good news for the congressional GOP:
Sources talking to @GloriaBorger say President Trump is more angry at Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein than Robert Mueller.
— Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) April 10, 2018
Dumping the AG or deputy AG would be explosive but wouldn’t be as direct an attempt to obstruct the Russiagate investigation as firing Mueller would be. Republicans could play it off as “troubling” but ultimately no big deal since the Senate retains the power to approve or reject Sessions’s and Rosenstein’s replacements. Where it gets tricky is if Trump laterals over Scott Pruitt or some other Senate-confirmed appointee at another agency to the AG slot and that person tries to defang the investigation without quite firing Mueller. What do Ryan and McConnell do then? Thom Tillis spent the morning pushing his bill from last summer, which would let Mueller challenge any termination in court, but what if he isn’t terminated? What if the new AG simply cuts his funding to zero or dramatically narrows the scope to exclude matters like, say, obstruction of justice?
Here’s Chuck Grassley, head of the Judiciary Committee, warning Trump that it would be “suicide” to fire Mueller. Would it? In what way? The caucus isn’t united in opposition to Mueller’s firing. Rand Paul was on TV this morning insisting that Mueller had abused his authority, in fact. The Republican House would be deathly afraid of a midterm backlash from its own voters if Trump fired Mueller and it moved to impeach. The party’s strategy for November, in fact, is to try to scare righties into voting by warning that Democrats will impeach Trump if they retake the House. The GOP’s not going to do anything. Firing Mueller is suicide only if it spooks more Democrats into going to the polls this fall than Republicans. And Democrats were planning to go to the polls anyway.
— FOX Business (@FoxBusiness) April 10, 2018