During the morning press conference, President Donald Trump said that he could fire anybody he wanted. He also said that the Russia probe was a hoax and that he could have stopped it at any moment. He chose not to do so. This was an off-the-rails presser where he literally got into fights with reporters. He was combative, and he was not able to control his self. However, when directly pressed about the Russia investigation and his Attorney General, there was no hint that he was about to fire him.
Soon after the press conference, he had Chief of Staff John Kelly fire Jeff Sessions. The letter of resignation is clear on this matter. The first line makes it clear. Sessions did this at the request of the president. I am not a fan of the now former Attorney General. However, there was zero surprise in this action from the president. It does not matter how much the professional commentariat tells it is.
If you have been paying attention, for even a nano-second, and trust me on this, the Commentariat does that…it’s a living, you knew this was coming. Trump acted now because he feels his control of the Senate is far more secure, and he can get a friendly successor through the confirmation process.
So what now? First, Trump ensured that firing Rod Rosenstein (likely coming soon) will not trigger a Saturday Night Massacre. Matt Whitaker, the acting AG is very friendly to Trump.
This means that likely Robert Mueller’s investigation is on thin ice. Whitaker has shown a bias with neutrality towards the investigation over his Twitter feed and may want to curtail that from now on. However, he may be told by the same staff that told Sessions he had to recuse himself, that he has to do the same. Why? The impression, at the very least, of bias, will hurt the Department of Justice. But in the end, the Special Counsel may be fired and the investigation comes to a screeching halt.
There are warnings from Capitol Hill and not just Democrats. However, this will not stop the president.
Could a firing trigger a constitutional crisis? I am of the view that we have been in one for over a year. I know that I am in the minority in this respect. However, others will join me if, or when, Special Counsel Mueller is fired, and that is likely in the cards. It has been in the planning for some time, even if Trump claims all this is a hoax and he did nothing.
One of the main objective of the administration has been to find a way to get out from under this investigation. The last thing that Trump wants is any kind of oversight, whether it is the House or the Special Counsel.
We know that this is the way things are going, and we also have understood that Session’s recusal was exactly the source of trouble between these two men. Trump does not believe that Sessions should have done that, because he does not understand the internal ethics rules of the Justice Department. Whitaker has made statements on Twitter that may lead to the same recommendation from DOJ professional staff. Will he recuse himself? Will Rod Rosenstein take over supervision (again?) We shall see.
Congress, especially the soon to be Democratic Majority, is now talking on how to protect Mueller. Democrats understand, and anybody with a brain will agree, that we are entering a very dangerous period. The president got into literally a fight with reporters during an off the rails press conference in the morning. He showed fear. Could he feel cornered? This moment is not unexpected.
Between now and January things will get increasingly dangerous. Which is the other reason he threatened Democrats to stay away from investigating him. We can expect more intimidation from the White House. We will see more pointing of fingers. White Supremacy in this administration will also become more open.
The crisis is deepening. This can also lead to more violence as some of his far-right allies also start to panic.