Donald Trump has been trying to kill the investigation into him, his campaign, and his family almost from the moment he took office.
His sloppy attempts to obstruct the investigation have only made the case against him that much worse. He fired FBI Director James Comey and foolishly admitted he did so because of Comey’s investigation. He’s been smearing, slandering, and tweet-raging about special counsel Robert Mueller for months.
But an explosive new report confirms Trump’s attempts to end this investigation go far beyond his public outbursts. Last June, only a month after Mueller was appointed, Trump tried to have him fired for investigating Trump for obstruction of justice.
And Trump’s White House is not denying it.
“We decline to comment out of respect for the Office of the Special Counsel and its process,” said Ty Cobb, one of Trump’s lawyers, in a statement to the Times.
For a White House that smears any allegation, regardless of the amount of evidence supporting it, as “fake news,” that statement speaks volumes about the story, which is based on conversations with multiple sources.
The only reason Mueller still holds his position is because White House counsel Don McGahn threatened to quit.
Mueller was appointed in May 2017, and by June, Trump was concocting what certainly seems to be a very thin case for his firing:
First, he claimed that a dispute years ago over fees at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va., had prompted Mr. Mueller, the F.B.I. director at the time, to resign his membership. The president also said Mr. Mueller could not be impartial because he had most recently worked for the law firm that previously represented the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Finally, the president said, Mr. Mueller had been interviewed to return as the F.B.I. director the day before he was appointed special counsel in May.
It’s not surprising, then, that McGahn refused to be a party to such an obvious attempt at further obstruction.
The bombshell report confirms what many Democrats were warning when Trump first started smearing Mueller.
“The message the president is sending through his tweets is that he believes the rule of law doesn’t apply to him and that anyone who thinks otherwise will be fired. That’s undemocratic on its face and a blatant violation of the president’s oath of office,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) at the time.
The GOP-led smear campaign against Mueller also kicked into gear at the same time Trump was looking for a way to fire him.
When Mueller was first appointed in May, Republicans had nothing but good things to say about the Purple Heart veteran and former FBI director.
In their attempt to undermine Mueller, Trump and his Republican allies launched myriad allegations against the special counsel and his role in the investigation, with some calling on him to step down and others refusing to push back on the baseless attacks against him.
At one point, longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone accused Mueller of committing obstruction of justice and demanded that he be removed from his position as special counsel, while former chief strategist Steve Bannon urged Trump to use more aggressive tactics against Mueller.
Last June, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) predicted that if Trump did indeed fire Mueller, “Congress would begin impeachment proceedings.”
That’s exactly what Trump was trying to do, and the only thing that stopped him was his own attorney threatening to quit, which would almost certainly have exploded the story of Trump’s intentions at the time.
Seven months later, we know those fears were warranted.