Donald Trump

To Protect Mueller From Trump, Republican Silence May Be Shrewd

Congressional Republicans may be keeping quiet not because they want to see Mueller fired but because they don't.


For congressional Republicans, having Donald Trump in the White House is like carrying around a vial of nitroglycerin. It can be useful in getting your way with others, but it puts you at perpetual risk of making a wrong move and being blown to pieces.

Most of these legislators came into this relationship against their own preferences, having favored someone else in the GOP primaries. Now that they are in it, they are constantly trying to figure out how to work with the president to advance their agenda while keeping him from setting off explosions.

As Trump escalates his attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller, they are being accused of timidity for declining to move legislation to prevent Trump from firing him. "Paul Ryan needs to be stronger, and so does Mitch McConnell," said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). Rep. Jerry Nadler, (D-N.Y.), charged that by not acting, "they're almost encouraging" Trump to dismiss Mueller.

Passing this type of bill, argued an editorial in The Washington Post, "would send a clear, public message that congressional leaders have so far declined to convey: Firing Mr. Mueller would elicit a substantial real-world reaction that would severely harm the White House."

The critics sound like childless adults who think parents should be able make their kids behave perfectly. Keeping Trump under control is harder than it looks. Some of the most important Republicans on Capitol Hill may be holding off not because they want to see Mueller fired but because they don't.

When you throw a pass, the legendary University of Texas football coach Darrell Royal noted, three things can happen—and two of them are bad. A push for this legislation would have even worse odds. Five things could happen, and only one is good.

First, a measure to protect Mueller could fail to get the votes to pass. Or it could pass without the two-thirds needed in both houses to override a veto. Either fate would give Trump the idea that he could purge the special counsel and get away with it.

The prospect of legislation could also prompt him to pre-empt it by firing Mueller immediately. The least likely outcome would be that the measure actually becomes law. If it did, Trump might dismiss him anyway and bet the courts would strike it down.

Some prominent GOP lawmakers have publicly warned Trump to leave Mueller alone. But even Republicans who have been willing to challenge the president are not lining up behind such legislation.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who says that firing Mueller "would be the end of President Trump's presidency," is sponsoring a bill to protect the special counsel—but thinks it can wait. Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina doesn't mind that his bill is collecting cobwebs, because there is no "imminent need." Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, a vocal Trump opponent, has yet to buy in.

What would explain this paradox? The general line among Republican members is that the president should let the special counsel complete his task. Some may also be communicating to Trump privately that while they can tolerate his furious denunciations of Mueller, they would not tolerate his firing.

Josh Holmes, a former chief of staff for Sen. Mitch McConnell, told The New York Times that if the Republican leader feels the need to let Trump know he shouldn't get rid of Mueller, "he probably communicates it directly and doesn't feel the need to pontificate in public."

The Republicans may also be playing a long game. By not passing a bill to constrain Trump, they convey their loyalty to GOP voters—82 percent of whom still view the president favorably. If these members are going to abandon him, they may calculate, better to wait until he makes a huge misstep. With any luck, he'll restrain himself and they won't have to.

Perhaps the inaction of congressional Republicans reflects animus toward the special counsel, blind allegiance, to Trump, or cowardice. But it's equally plausible that they are making a considered effort to avoid encouraging or provoking the president to fire Mueller.

In a hyper-partisan climate, it's easy to interpret every difference of opinion as proof of sordid motives. But if Republicans actually wanted Trump to get rid of Mueller, they would be saying so. Instead, they have shown a preference for letting him do his job. We shouldn't rule out the possibility that they have the right goal and know how to achieve it.

NEXT: Everybody Hates Jeff Flake

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  1. A lot of analogies there Chapman- explosives and football.

    Here’s an analogy for you- If you wait for dementia ridden parent to ask for help in being put in a home that day will never come. Mueller will never voluntarily end his “investigation” by saying that he is done his job within the scope that started it. Mueller will continue to waste taxpayer money if you let him.

    Congress needs to set a date, like April 1, 2018 and say if you don’t have any new crimes relating to Russia stealing the election, then its over.

    1. It would be good if Mueller actually started his investigation about the purpose of his appointment. Mueller seems to investigate everything but Russian collusion and is avoiding the only factual collusion we know of regarding Steele.

      1. His brief, strangely enough, directs him to only look at collusion on the part of Trump’s campaign. Collusion by anybody else is outside his jurisdiction. This is a bit of a problem when all the collusion was by the Democrats.

        1. This is a bit of a problem when all the collusion was by the Democrats.

          If you are aware that Mr. Mueller has determined that “all the collusion was by the Democrats,” I encourage you to perform a public service by alerting any of the countless reporters who would welcome the information.

          If you have evidence or a report to offer, you should publish it.

          After you publish your findings on the Obama birth certificate, of course.

          1. All the collusion that’s been identified in public reports has been by the Democrats: Paying the Russians to provide smears of Trump through cutouts, to make it look like real intelligence. The Podesta Group being unregistered lobbyists for Russian interests.

  2. There’s probably a thousand criminal cases around the country where someone is wrongfully accused or convicted. You see them all the time where DNA clears a guy who’s been in prison 30 years. Some places these cases are stonewalled for years and years. These are actual real examples of injustice. I’ve never heard nor do I expect Trump to mention any of these cases when he rails against the FBI, Judges or ‘witch hunts’. No, this scum motherfucket Trump is selfish to the core and would cry and scream about injustice while inflicting horror upon real victims of injustice.

    1. It would be nice if a president spoke against that type of injustice.

      You do know that most people go through a state criminal justice system not a federal one? In other words, the president has nothing to do with state wrongful prosecutions, unconstitutional delays of fair trials in state courts, etc.

      1. Trump is a lot of things but a pussy is not one. Trump has the ears and support of all the usual impediments to meaningful criminal justice reform and if anyone could lead in this area it would be Trump but he’s shown that he doesn’t care. He only cares about his own narrow interests. Now the last president had a better moral compass but no balls. Trump has balls but no compass.

      2. What kind of cousinfucking moron could possibly think Trump is a good president?

        1. Why are you obsessed with cousin-fucking? I get the idea that you are projecting on to other people. So which cousin of yours are you hot for?

          And the bar for being a “good” president is pretty low. I’d say Trump is a decent president, certainly the best in my lifetime. But, again, that bar is pretty low.

          1. Tony is always about projection. He is a seriously broken and deviant person who deals with it by projecting that onto everyone else.

          2. Would you prefer slack-jawed hillbilly?

            And you’re obviously insane so what do you matter.

            1. slack-jawed hillbilly

              I always forget that proggies care so much about people that they lob such affectionate insults at those with whom they disagree.

              obviously insane

              Can you provide evidence to support this accusation?

        2. What kind of buttfucking moron could possibly think Obama was a good president?

        3. YOU Tony. You think Trump is a good president.

    2. I doubt those guys are defending Trump. So what?

  3. “Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who says that firing Mueller “would be the end of President Trump’s presidency,””

    Probably be more accurate to say that he hopes it would be.

  4. Something tells me that here you will definitely find some info on how to write the great essay. Check it out as soon as you can because its worth it

  5. It’s odd to see a thread go to shit in the first comment.

      1. bully

        1. Zero


    1. Hopefully it will remain odd to see Hihn post first.

      1. Hihn might be the dumbest human being on the internet. It is just terrifying how stupid he is.

  6. The critics sound like childless adults who think parents should be able make their kids behave perfectly.

    You shouldn’t bring a child in public until it can behave with good manners. Look pal, I didn’t make the rules.

    1. Took that quote personally I see.

    2. Obvious joke is obvious.

  7. dismiss Mueller.

    He has gone so far off the reservation with regard to what he is actually supposed to be investigating that he should be dismissed.

  8. The irony of a Libertarian publication having no concern about restraining a prosecutor is quite large. We must restrain Trump but Mueller is of course above reproach and should be subject to no oversight or restraint. Nothing says liberty like completely unaccountable prosecutors.

    1. By not passing a bill to constrain Trump, they convey their loyalty to GOP voters ? 82 percent of whom still view the president favorably.

      Unbelieveable, right?

      Or maybe, given that such legislation would almost certainly be struck down in any court, they figure that even any signaling that some of the swampier members might be willing to engage in would be a waste of time.

      1. Oops that was not a reply to you John

    2. This is Libertarian? A Chapman article with Hihn shitting all over the comments?

      You’ve stuck around and fought the good fight, but most of us left because of just this kind of shit. I visit occasionally, it’s like rubber-necking a horrible car-crash.

      1. It really is. Chapman has always been stupid.

  9. Nothing but crickets from our Trotskyite triumvirate, Michael Hihn, Arthur L. Kirkland, and Tony on Bob Mueller’s corrupt and sordid past.

    If they were truly concerned about the rule of law, why wouldn’t they be demanding Mueller’s head? Its as if they never heard of James Whitey Bulger and the 1965 gangland murder of Teddy Deegan for which four innocent men were sent to jail with two of them dying there before the other two were released in 2001. The FBI, of course, had framed the four men and it was Bobby Mueller who, for years, in his capacity as assistant United States attorney, and as US Attorney, had written to the parole board objecting to the release of the four men knowing that they had been framed by the DOJ and the FBI.

    1. Participating in a desperate months-late attempt at a smear job should make you feel dirty.

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