While speaking to MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle on Monday morning, Republican strategist and MSNBC political analyst Rick Tyler predicted that President Donald Trump will fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Tyler also said he believes Republican leadership will do nothing to stop it from happening.
“He’s going to fire Mueller eventually, probably sooner rather than later," Tyler said, "before he can get any further on money laundering or any other tangential issues."
Tyler made his prediction after Trump issued a series of bizarre and erratic tweets Monday morning, in which the president urged people to turn on Sean Hannity, as well as once again referring to the Russia probe as a "WITCH HUNT" with "massive conflicts of interest!"
On Sunday, Trump mentioned Mueller by name, taking to Twitter to ask why Mueller's team has "zero Republicans?" Robert Mueller is a life-long Republican. The man who hired him and is the acting Attorney General for the Russia investigation, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, is a life-long Republican (and a Trump appointee, no less).
Mueller's investigation appears to be working its way closer to the president, and Tyler believes that Trump's pernicious jabs at the Special Counsel are a test to see how Republicans would react, should Trump decide to fire Mueller.
Tyler said that the overwhelming lack of pushback by Republicans is a clue.
The president has calculated now … the reaction from the Republicans. He is going to fire Robert Mueller. And you know what’s going to happen? Nothing. There will be no response from Republican leadership from the Congress. The reason to fire McCabe, the reason he had to to deny him his retirement, is [Trump] has to discredit them, has to systematically discredit everybody who is involved in this Russia investigation. And he has now seen that he can do these things without any recourse. … Congress is not going to rein him in.
Mueller's investigation appears to be shifting from an obstruction of justice case against the president (which Trump's comments on recently-fired Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe seem to support) to financial crimes. Last week, the New York Times reported that Mueller had subpoenaed the Trump Organization for all of their documents on to anything and everything related to Russia.
Trump and his lawyers have denied that there has been any talk of firing the Special Counsel, but that hasn't stopped rumors from buzzing around Washington that the president is scared. Similarly, prior to the firings of former NSA Director Michael Flynn, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Steven Bannon, et al, the White House insisted that no one would be losing their jobs.
Trump has said any prodding into his finances or business dealings would be a "red line," although how he would react to it actually happening hasn't been clear. His latest tweets about Mueller, however, may be an indication. As the status quo rests right now, Trump does not have the legal authority to directly fire the Special Counsel. That power, for now, rests with Rosenstein.
How could Trump fire Mueller? It's messy. Really messy. But not impossible.
The clearest path would be for Trump to fire and replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions with someone else willing to fire Mueller. Sessions recused himself from the investigation over reports that he was not forthcoming about meetings with Russian officials. Trump could appoint a new AG during a Senate recess. A new acting AG could rescind the "good cause" statute that prevents the firing of Special Counsel without evidence of investigative impropriety. Trump could also fire Rosenstein, should he refuse to fire Mueller, and then continue to work his way down the ranks of the Department of Justice until someone agrees to do the job. As is the case with the AG, Trump could appoint a new DAG during a Senate Recess.