Today, Thursday, marks the one-year anniversary of special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s appointment to personally fulfill the political fantasies of every pussy-hat-wearing, resistance-T-shirt-sporting, Salon-reading citizen left in America.
That fantasy, of course, is of Mueller finding evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians to influence the 2016 presidential election in his favor. More on that later.
The bigger story is that Mueller has even had the job this long; a rugby team full of people have been, fired, resigned or replaced since Donald Trump got into office.
Moreover, Trump threatens to fire Mueller and end the “witch hunt” Russian-collusion investigation literally every week (usually minutes after hate-watching Don Lemon or the cold open of Saturday Night Live).
Trump could easily fire special prosecutor Mueller by just firing people until someone at the Justice Department did it for him. Republicans in the Senate won’t pass legislation to protect Mueller, either, which raises the question: What would actually happen if Donald Trump fired Robert Mueller?
Seriously, nothing would happen. I actually considered submitting this article with only the title and the word “nothing,” but Damon Young at Very Smart Brothas already beat me to that trick last month.
Seriously, though, nothing happens. It’s really important for everyone to understand that even with a year of investigating, and millions of Americans praying every night for mass arrests and impeachment of the Breitbart-message-board-come-to-life that is the Trump White House, Donald Trump could fire Robert Mueller at any time and nothing would change.
When I say “nothing,” I mean nothing. Not. One. Thing.
Congress would still go to work the next day. The mail would continue to be slow. The internet would not crash. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt would continue to order giant ostrich eggs sprinkled with gold dust for breakfast, and Housing and Urban Development director Ben Carson would continue to think the rent was too damn low.
There would literally be no immediate consequences if Donald Trump fired Robert Mueller. Don’t be fooled by political pundits on the left or the right, or even the center, who say a “constitutional crisis” would set upon the land like Sauron’s eye.
Donald Trump has been a walking, talking constitutional crisis since he stepped into office. He wipes his butt with the emoluments clause; he refuses to enact sanctions against Russia despite a veto-proof vote from Congress; he has regularly appointed, protected and renominated grotesquely unqualified people who have more conflicts of interest than Mike Pence at Beach Week for Log Cabin Republicans.
Firing Mueller doesn’t put America’s Constitution at any more risk than anything else Trump has done for the last several months.
There is this myth out there that if Trump fires Mueller, some huge constitutional doomsday clock will start, red lights will start flashing and staffers will be running around shredding papers, capped off by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi doing a slow-motion walkaway from an exploding Capitol building.
Not even close. People will be mad, think pieces will be written, members of Congress will complain, but nothing will immediately change.
Now, that doesn’t mean that nothing will eventually happen.
James Comey, who vacillates between disingenuous Boy Scout and Deep State provocateur, pointed out during his book tour that at this point, there are so many investigations into Trump that firing Mueller won’t stop the investigation. In fact, he said that Trump would basically have to fire the entire FBI and the Justice Department to stop investigations into his corruption and collusion. Which I would bet about $130,000 in unmarked bills has crossed Trump’s mind.
No one knows whether or not Trump will fire Mueller, or whether a constitutional crisis is a real thing or just Washington, D.C., bluster; but I do know this: Robert Mueller’s investigation will not finish prior to the 2018 midterm elections.
He is not about to throw pearls before swine. There is no chance that after a year of investigating and 19 indictments, guilty pleas and various awards for best Sam Waterston cosplay, Mueller will turn over his final report to a Congress run by Republicans who have made it clear that they will do nothing to hold Trump accountable, even if his campaign was colluding with Russia.
Remember, Trump likely can’t be hit with an indictment, and even if Mueller “proves” that Trump colluded with Russia, it would take an act of both houses of Congress to impeach the president. The investigation into collusion is inherently political, not legal.
Lots of D.C. insiders insist that Mueller doesn’t care about politics and that he’s above it all. I’m sure they were saying the same thing about Comey right before he threw the entire 2016 election for Trump over some silly emails.
Lots of D.C. insiders say that Trump will never fire Mueller because it would cause a constitutional crisis. Tell that to Sally Yates or Comey.
Mueller knows that the only chance his investigation will be acted upon is if Democrats control part of Congress. If Democrats win the House this fall, expect Mueller’s investigation to be finalized by spring of 2019. If the Republicans keep the House, he’ll just keep digging, until Trump finally fires him.
Either way, nothing really happens anytime soon. However, if you are one of those millions of Americans having fever dreams every night about the Trump administration going down in flames, you might want to make sure you vote for Democrats this fall—if Mueller still has a job, he’ll certainly be paying attention.