President Trump is considering firing Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein or possibly even AG Jeff Sessions, CNN reports. The goal is to create a “check” on Mueller’s investigation:
President Donald Trump is considering firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, multiple people familiar with the discussions tell CNN, a move that has gained urgency following the raid of the office of the President’s personal lawyer…
This is one of several options — including going so far as to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions — Trump is weighing in the aftermath of the FBI’s decision Monday to raid the office of Michael Cohen, the President’s personal lawyer and longtime confidant. Officials say if Trump acts, Rosenstein is his most likely target, but it’s unclear whether even such a dramatic firing like this would be enough to satisfy the President…
A senior administration official said the White House has been discussing potential options with key congressional Republican leaders, fearful of “blindsiding them.” A person familiar with the conversations says a top congressional Republican advised the White House not to fire Rosenstein.
The check on Mueller wouldn’t come from the firing Rosenstein per se but from the replacement who, with AG Sessions having recused himself, would be placed in a position overseeing the Mueller investigation. In a separate report, CNN notes that Democrats are already huddling about what they might do if Rosenstein is fired:
Across the aisle, a Senate Democratic source told CNN that Democrats in the chamber just huddled with party leaders to talk about “what if” Trump fires Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein or Attorney General Jeff Sessions. They discussed immediately calling for document preservation and for Republicans who have been warning about this to join with them if it happens.
Also today, the NY Times reports Trump briefly considered firing Mueller last December after a report claimed the special counsel was looking into his finances:
In early December, President Trump, furious over news reports about a new round of subpoenas from the office of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, told advisers in no uncertain terms that Mr. Mueller’s investigation had to be shut down.
The president’s anger was fueled by reports that the subpoenas were for obtaining information about his business dealings with Deutsche Bank, according to interviews with eight White House officials, people close to the president and others familiar with the episode. To Mr. Trump, the subpoenas suggested that Mr. Mueller had expanded the investigation in a way that crossed the “red line” he had set last year in an interview with The New York Times.
In the hours that followed Mr. Trump’s initial anger over the Deutsche Bank reports, his lawyers and advisers worked quickly to learn about the subpoenas, and ultimately were told by Mr. Mueller’s office that the reports were not accurate, leading the president to back down.
That’s a reference to a report by Bloomberg and others that Deutsche Bank had turned over Trump’s banking records after a subpoena from Mueller. Trump’s attorney subsequently disputed that and corrections were issued:
“We have confirmed that the news reports that the Special Counsel had subpoenaed financial records relating to the president are false. No subpoena has been issued or received. We have confirmed this with the bank and other sources,” Trump’s lawyer John Dowd wrote in an email Dec. 5.
AFP reported late Dec. 5 that the subpoena was issued in connection with Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman who was indicted in October. Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni declined to comment.
The NY Times report points out that this brief flash of anger with Mueller seems to offer some insight into how Trump responds to developments in the news. More specifically, the story says people in Trump’s orbit have learned not to take his every statement as an order but sometimes just as an indication of frustration or a way of talking. That insight would seem to apply as well to any consideration of firing Rosenstein, i.e. Trump may be angry over the raid on his lawyer’s office but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to go through with firing anyone.