The West Wing has sought guidance on terminating the special counsel despite it violating federal code
“He certainly believes he has the power to do so,” the White House press secretary said of the President’s ability to fire Mueller. “We’ve been advised that the President certainly has the power to make that decision.”
That. Is. A. Big. Deal.
Think about what Sanders is saying here. She is saying that that White House has sought out guidance as to whether Trump can fire the special counsel. And concluded that he can.
Which matters a lot, for two reasons.
1. That conclusion goes against the Code of Federal Regulations governing how and who can fire a special counsel.
The code says this:
“The Special Counsel may be disciplined or removed from office only by the personal action of the Attorney General. The Attorney General may remove a Special Counsel for misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or for other good cause, including violation of Departmental policies. The Attorney General shall inform the Special Counsel in writing of the specific reason for his or her removal.”
That seems very, very clear.
“The Special Counsel may be disciplined or removed from office only by the personal action of the Attorney General” doesn’t appear to leave a ton of wiggle room.
So, even in what is widely seen as one of the biggest crises of confidence in modern government history, Nixon followed the code on how to get a special counsel fired.
2. That conclusion speaks to just how far Trump has come in terms of Mueller’s job status in a very short period of time.
Remember that for months and months, Trump — perhaps on the advice of his legal team — never mentioned Mueller by name.
It was only March 17 when Trump first raised Mueller by name in a tweet.
But what we’ve learned about the research and conclusions the White House has drawn about Trump’s ability to fire Mueller feels as though this is all picking up speed. And quickly.